Blood Alcohol Limit in Quebec: Drinking and Driving Laws in Montreal

Legal Blood Alcohol Driving Limit in Montreal and the Province of Quebec

Blood alcohol laws in Quebec feature a blood alcohol concentration limit, a lower limit for specific drivers and a zero tolerance policy for select drivers.
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The blood alcohol limit in Quebec has been a point of contention for years in Montreal and across the province, with debates in recent years centering around what the limit should be.

The Quebec government declared in 2009 that it would drop the blood alcohol limit from 0.08 to 0.05 to match Canada's tough stance on drunk driving. But by late 2010, the government backtracked. Quebec's then transport minister, Sam Hamad claimed that residents weren't "ready" for such a change. "We want to do it but not right now," he told The Globe and Mail.

Intense lobbying from restaurant and bar owners who opposed lowering the limit to 0.05 likely played a part in the decision. And yet the debate rages on not just provincially but federally, with federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould publicly declaring in August 2017 that the idea of lowering the blood alcohol limit to 0.05 across Canada is one she's seriously considering.

See Also: Quebec's Legal Drinking Age

Quebec's Blood Alcohol Limit: The Current Law

As with the rest of Canada, the maximum blood alcohol content allowed by law in the province of Quebec is set at 0.08, a comparable limit to that enforced in the United States and most of the United Kingdom. 

However, almost all provinces in Canada generally impose sanctions if a driver's blood alcohol limit exceeds 0.05, Quebec is the only province that does not impound vehicles and/or temporarily revoke licenses if drivers caught with blood alcohol levels below 0.08 but above 0.05, though some exceptions apply.

Quebec's Blood Alcohol Limit: Exceptions and Zero Tolerance Rule

While everyday drivers are subject to a 0.08 blood alcohol limit, allowed blood alcohol concentration limits drop to 0.05 for heavy vehicle drivers and a zero alcohol tolerance rule applies to taxi drivers, bus drivers, minibus drivers, drivers under age 22, learner drivers, and drivers holding a probationary licence. 

Quebec's Blood Alcohol Limit: It's There for a Reason

Did you know that driving under the influence of alcohol is the leading cause of criminal death in Canada?

One of the main causes of road-related fatality in the province of Quebec, driving under the influence is not just risky, it's deadly: of the total number of drivers who died on the road, roughly one-third had blood alcohol concentration levels above the legal limit. Percentage-wise from 2002 to 2013, total driver deaths under the influence have ranged from as low as 29% in 2006 to as high as 38% in 2009.

Calculate How Much You Can Safely Drink

If you intend on driving after drinking, save yourself some second-guessing and worry.

Get a rough idea of how much you can safely drink by using this alcohol evening planner provided by Educ'Alcool.

Just input your gender, weight and what kind of drinks you want to have, whether you'll be eating (including how many courses) and the planner will estimate your blood alcohol content, indicating whether it's safe (and legal!) to drive.

But keep in mind the evening planner only offers a general idea. MADD Canada, for example, actively discourages drivers from assuming the evening planner is a precise tool, worried people might rely on its rough guidelines as if they were gospel, inadvertently putting lives in danger. For far more accurate results, the best tool for calculating blood alcohol concentration is, of course, a breathalyzer.

When in doubt, call on the help of a designated driver. Or call a cab.

Sources: Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, Service de police de la ville de Montréal, Educ'Alcool