How Much Can You Drink and Drive in Nova Scotia in 2023

Drink and drive laws in Nova Scotia Canada

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) legal limit in Nova Scotia is 80mg or 0.08% grams. Driving exceeding the BAC limit is considered a violation of Nova Scotia’s Impaired Driving Rules.

Based on statistics, an average of 22 people a year are killed in car accidents related to drunk driving. 

This post will guide you about alcohol limit and impaired driving regulations in Nova Scotia.

The purpose of this post is to simply present information about drinking limits and impaired driving in Nova Scotia. This article does not encourage drinking a specific amount of alcohol while driving.

We do not advocate drunk driving and highly suggest using other modes of transportation if you are drunk. Instead of driving after drinking, it is best to hail a cab, book an Uber, or a designated driver service.

It’s also good to regularly look at the province’s official website for updates on drunk driving regulations.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Nova Scotia

The government of Nova Scotia has set an alcohol threshold for drinking and driving in the province. As mentioned, the allowed blood-alcohol content in this province is less than 80 mg or 0.08% concentration.

The effects of alcohol differ for everyone. Several factors influence how alcohol works in a human’s system, such as age, gender, weight, metabolism, etc.

Blood alcohol levels in males and women are significantly different. Women frequently have higher BACs than men of the same age and weight.

Men also have more highly active types of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) in their stomach and liver, which aids in the faster processing of alcohol.

BAC charts and BAC calculator can estimate your BAC after drinking a specific amount of alcohol. 

For example, a 160-pound (approximately 72 kilograms) man who consumes one bottle (12 oz/330 ml) of beer (5% alcohol content) within one hour can have a BAC of around 0.02%. Therefore, drinking two to three bottles within an hour will result in a BAC of 0.05% to 0.07%, within the legal alcohol limit. 

While the BAC charts and calculators above can help you determine your blood alcohol level, they are unreliable since alcohol has various effects on different people. Still, the most accurate method to establish how much alcohol is in your system is to use an alcohol breathalyzer.

Drink and Drive Punishment in Nova Scotia

A person commits a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada if driving or in control of a vehicle while influenced by alcohol or drugs — even if their blood alcohol level is below 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (.08 %).

Penalties can include fines, jail, or both, and a driving prohibition. Convictions can lead to insurance loss, increased insurance costs, and loss of employment.

Suppose a peace officer has “reasonable and probable grounds” to suspect the presence of alcohol. In that case, the officer may ask the driver of a vehicle to submit a breath sample in approved screening equipment (ALERT) or to provide a breath sample for analysis (Breathalyzer).

If the person cannot give a breath sample, the peace officer may request that a blood sample be taken for analysis by a competent medical practitioner. Refusing to produce these samples is a violation of the law.

Below are some of the penalties in Nova Scotia that an impaired driver may receive. Fines and jail terms may also vary if the motorist’s activities resulted in deaths, bodily injuries, or risky driving. The judge’s decision and sentence are based on the facts of each case.

First Offense

  • a fine ranging from $600 to $2000
  • revocation of driving rights for one year from the date of conviction
  • completion of an Addiction/Drug Dependency Services Assessment Program (at your expense)
  • license reinstatement charge (at your cost)
  • retaking driver’s tests, including written, road, and vision tests.

Second Offense Within Ten Years

  • a fine ranging from $600 to $2000
  • a minimum 14-day jail sentence*
  • revocation of driving rights for three years from the date of conviction
  • completion of an evaluation program for Addiction/Drug Dependency Services 
  • fee for license reinstatement
  • retaking your driver’s tests, including the written, road, and vision tests.

Third Offense Within Ten Years

  • a fine ranging from $600 to $2000
  • a minimum of 90 days in prison*
  • driving privileges are revoked indefinitely (10 years minimum) from the date of conviction
  • completing an evaluation program for Addiction/Drug Dependency Services
  • fee for license reinstatement 
  • retake your driver’s tests, including the written, road, and vision tests.

Fourth Offense Within Ten Years

In addition to the penalties prescribed by the Criminal Code of Canada, permanent revocation may be imposed.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Nova Scotia?

As previously said, everyone’s reaction to alcohol differs. While the information below is based on studies, it does not imply that it applies to everyone.

Moreover, mixed drinks with different alcohol levels and different liquor amounts in containers can also play a factor in your BAC.

Each of us has a different alcohol tolerance, and our bodies react differently to alcohol. It is still best to refrain from drinking while driving.

How Many Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Nova Scotia?

Based on the BAC charts and calculators, a man weighing 160 pounds (72 kilograms) can drink two to three bottles (12 ounces/350 ml) of beer with about 5% alcohol in one hour. A woman with the same weight who drinks the same amount in the same duration can have one to two bottles of beer.

How Much Wine Can You Drink and Drive in Nova Scotia?

For a 160-pound (72 kilograms) male, one to two glasses (125 ml/glass) of wine with 12% alcohol contents within one hour is the limit. For a woman with a similar weight, one glass of wine is enough to consume within an hour.

How Many Shots of Vodka or Whiskey Can You Drink and Drive in Nova Scotia?

Using the same example, a 160-pound (72-kilo) male can have a BAC of 0.03% after drinking 1.5 ounces of spirits with an alcohol content of about 40%. One to two shots in an hour should suffice if you intend to drive home. One shot within an hour is enough for a woman with similar weight. Anything over one can put you above the legal BAC limit.

Staying Within Nova Scotia Drink and Drive Limits

Using other transportation methods is best to go home safely after drinking. There is no need to drive while impaired when there are several safe ways to get home. When you drive after drinking, you endanger not just your own life but also the welfare of other people.

Regardless if you have just had a few drinks, it is best to avoid driving. It is safer to use a designated driver, book a cab, or an Uber than drive intoxicated, even if there is a legal limit for blood alcohol levels.

If you must drive after consuming alcohol, be sure your BAC is within the legal limit based on the most current laws available on the province’s official website.

While we have given certain drinking limits, it is still essential to use a trustworthy breathalyzer to precisely test your blood alcohol content.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.

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