In Ontario, drivers are responsible for ensuring that there is no open alcohol in the vehicle while they are operating it, as per the Liquor Licence Act.
If stopped by police, the driver may be charged with “driving a motor vehicle with open liquor readily available” under section 32(1) of the Liquor Licence Act, which carries a $180 fine. The passengers could face charges of “having liquor in open container in other than licensed premises, residence or private place” under section 31(2) Liquor Licence Act, with a fine of $125 each.
If the officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver had consumed alcohol, they might make a demand for a sample of the driver’s breath in an approved screening device.
If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the driver is impaired, then the driver would be arrested and taken to the police station for a Breathalyzer test.
Liquor being transported inside the vehicle must have the original seal unbroken. A partially consumed and then recapped beer is still considered open liquor. Regardless of who has the open liquor, the driver can be charged.
The Highway Traffic Act requires that all drivers age 21 and under, regardless of licence class, must have zero blood alcohol when operating a motor vehicle. If caught with any amount of alcohol in their blood, such drivers will receive an immediate 24 hour roadside licence suspension and, upon conviction, a fine of up to $500 and a minimum 30 day licence suspension. Novice drivers face escalating sanctions for subsequent convictions.
Additionally, it is illegal for minors (under the age of 19) to buy, drink or possess alcohol. Persons supplying liquor to a minor risk a maximum $200,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
Please be careful on the roads. With the long weekend upon us, please don't drink and drive.