At Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, we believe in keeping you up to date about the changing state of impaired driving laws across the country and around the world. This is not only to provide a comparison to the laws of Tennessee but also to give you a sense of what trends could be coming our way.
While we do not represent people in Canada, that country's crackdown on impaired driving could affect U.S. citizens who travel there. If you plan to travel to Canada, here are a few things you should know:
Police can demand a breath test without even suspecting you're drunk
Canadian police now have the authority to pull over any driver and demand a breath test. Refusing the test could result in a mandatory minimum fine of $2,000 (Canadian dollars) for the first offense and a criminal record. The penalties increase with subsequent offenses, and the third conviction carries a penalty of 120 days in jail.
The penalties are altogether harsher
First offenses now come with stiff, mandatory minimum fines. These depend on your blood-alcohol concentration at the time of your arrest and range from $1,000 to $2,500.
The jail time for impaired driving causing no bodily harm has also been increased. Now, a summary conviction could mean two years in jail -- up from 18 months. An indictable offense could mean 10 years in jail, up from 5 years.
If you injure someone, you could be facing two years in jail for a summary conviction and 14 for an indictable offense.
A conviction for dangerous driving causing death can now lead to a maximum penalty of life in jail.
Determination of drunkenness rules changed
The rules have also changed on how the police determine your blood-alcohol content. Under Canadian law, the police used to have to take a sample within two hours of the arrest. Now, they can take the sample up to three hours after the arrest and it will be considered the same as if it had been taken while the suspect was driving.
Furthermore, they can take a blood sample any time after you were driving and, as long as 20 milligrams of alcohol remain in your bloodstream, use a formula to extrapolate your blood-alcohol content at the time you were driving. This is somewhat surprising because people are known to absorb alcohol at different rates due to a number of factors.
These laws went into effect last month. If you plan to visit Canada, you need to be very careful about your drinking. If you are arrested for DUI in Tennessee, contact an experienced attorney right away.