The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level in the Northwest Territories is 0.08% gram or 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml blood. This limit is equivalent to approximately one to two alcoholic drinks depending on your age, gender, size, and other factors. However, you can receive penalties if you drive with a BAC level of 0.05% or 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml blood.
Before delving further into the details of impaired driving in the Northwest Territories, keep in mind that the goal of this article is purely educational. This post should not be interpreted as a recommendation to drink and drive in any province or territory.
Driving a vehicle when impaired in any way by the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two is considered impaired driving.
In a survey done in the Northwest Territories, 18% of 313 drivers who submitted a sample of breath or oral fluid tested positive for drugs, alcohol, or a mixture of both. The region also recorded 264 filed alcohol and drug-impaired driving charges in 2019.
The NWT government has strengthened impaired driving laws to combat drunk driving-related incidents.
While consuming alcohol and driving is not illegal in the Northwest Territories, you must abide by the region’s legal BAC level before driving. If alcohol or drugs even remotely impair your driving ability, you are at risk of violating the law.
If you must travel after drinking, consider using a taxi or hiring a designated driver. We also urge that you regularly check Northwest Territories’ official website to stay up to date on the region’s impaired driving rules and regulations.
Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Northwest Territories
The NWT government penalizes drivers with BACs of 0.05% or higher. The territory determines the consequences and penalties in compliance with Canada’s Criminal Code and the Territories Motor Vehicles Act.
Each person’s reaction to alcohol is unique. Your BAC level may differ depending on a variety of conditions, including:
- fatigue level
- fatigue level medication intake
- consumption rate
Because of these considerations, alcohol can have various effects on people. Even if they only take a modest amount of alcohol, some people can become disoriented and drunk.
You may estimate your BAC level using a BAC chart or BAC calculator. But, it is essential to remember that these tools may or may not be accurate for all individuals since each one reacts differently to alcohol
A reliable alcohol breathalyzer is still the most accurate way to determine your BAC.
Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Northwest Territories
Driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable in the Northwest Territories.
If a peace officer caught you driving with a blood alcohol content level beyond the legal limit, you might face suspension, imprisonment, and fines, among other penalties.
An overview of NWT’s impaired driving penalties is provided below to help you understand and adhere to the law.
In the Northwest Territories, zero tolerance is implemented among novice drivers, drivers below the age of 22, and commercial vehicle drivers with any quantity of alcohol or drugs in their systems.
Commercial vehicle drivers are those who operate the following vehicles:
- a tractor coupled with one or two trailers
- a straight truck
- a single vehicle with at least three axles
- a taxi
- a bus
- a school bus
- vehicles for emergency
- or any other vehicles specified by regulation under the Motor Vehicles Act.
License Suspension or Disqualification
According to the Motor Vehicles Act, the following penalties apply for novice, commercial, and below-age 22 drivers:
- Novice drivers and drivers under 22 will face a 30-day administrative license suspension or disqualification.
- Commercial vehicle drivers may face a three-day administrative suspension or disqualification.
The following license suspension applies to all drivers in the Northwest Territories:
A 24-hour administrative license suspension and disqualification can be issued if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle on a highway is impaired.
Drivers with a BAC level of 0.05% can be penalized with a 24-hour administrative license suspension or disqualification. An extension of 30 days is possible if a driver has a previous record of suspensions, disqualifications, or restrictions.
Drivers with BAC levels exceeding 0.08% will face a 90-day administrative license suspension or disqualification.
Drivers who fail or decline a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) or evaluation risk having their license suspended or disqualified. Peace officers conduct SFST at the roadside as mandated by the Criminal Code.
Fines and Jail Time
Criminal offenses become Criminal Code convictions if police submit charges that are pursued in court.
A judge decides on the penalties if you are guilty. The following are examples of punishments:
- imprisonment (30 days minimum);
- fines ($1,000 minimum);
- driving bans and restrictions; or
- a recommendation to the Driver Control Board.
When Can You Drink and Drive in Northwest Territories?
Each individual processes alcohol differently. In fact, men and women have different BAC levels. Women actually have a greater BAC than men.
Men are known to have high levels of the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme in their stomach and liver. These enzymes primarily aid in the quicker absorption of alcohol. It is the main reason men have a better tolerance to alcohol compared to women.
As a guide, you may refer to the following information to know how much alcohol you can drink and drive in NWT.
Please remember, though, that while the information below is based on research, it may not apply to everyone, as people have different reactions to alcohol.
How Many Beers Can You Have and Drive in the Northwest Territories?
A male weighing roughly 63 kg (140 pounds) can have a blood alcohol content level of 0.03% after one standard drink, according to the BAC chart. In terms of beer, a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer is considered a standard size.
After drinking the same amount, a female of the same weight can have the same BAC level.
Based on the BAC chart, the lower the person’s weight, the higher BAC he can have after drinking alcohol.
On average, one to two bottles of beer are sufficient to stay inside the NWT’s legal BAC level.
How Much Wine Can You Drink and Drive in Northwest Territories?
A standard serving of wine can contain up to 12% alcohol. Similar to the previous example, a male weighing 63 kg can have a BAC of 0.03% after drinking one glass of 142 ml (5oz.) of wine.
Therefore, consuming two glasses of wine is sufficient to stay within the permitted BAC threshold in the Northwest Territories.
How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Northwest Territories?
A male weighing 63 kg (140 pounds) can have a BAC of 0.05% after drinking two shots of 44 ml (1.5 oz) of spirits.
On the other hand, a female with the same weight can have a BAC level of 0.07% after drinking the same quantity.
If you want to drive after drinking, one shot of vodka or whiskey is more than enough.
Sticking to Impaired Driving Laws in Northwest Territories
Road safety is important. It is vital to remember that drunk driving is hazardous for you and other motorists.
If you are drunk, it is best to take other ways of transportation. You can ask a friend to drive for you, take a taxi, or book other ride-hailing services.
If driving after drinking is unavoidable, be sure your blood alcohol level is less than the legal limit.
Regardless of whether you only had a few drinks, avoiding driving is safer. Because different people react differently to alcohol, only a breathalyzer can reliably measure your BAC level.