Page last updated: March 27, 2017

Impaired driving in Canada, 2015

In Canada,police reported 72,039 impaired driving incidents in 2015, a rate of 201 incidents per 100,000 population. Of the total number of incidents, 122 were cases of impaired driving causing death and 596 were cases of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

The impaired driving rate steadily decreased from 1986—when comparable data were first collected—until the early 2000s. It then remained relatively stable until 2011, and has since declined. The impaired driving rate in 2015 was 65% lower than the rate in 1986 (577 incidents per 100,000 population) and 4% lower than the rate observed in 2014 (210 per 100,000 population).

Other highlights from the report: • The highest impaired driving rates were reported in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Saskatchewan. The lowest rates were in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. • While census metropolitan areas (CMA) together account for about 70% of the population, half of all impaired driving incidents in 2015 took place in these areas. • Among the CMAs, the St. John’s CMA recorded both the highest alcohol-impaired driving rate and the highest drug-impaired driving rate. • The majority of persons charged with impaired driving in 2015 were male. However, the proportion who were females has substantially increased over the past 30 years, from 8% in 1986 to 20% in 2015. • Young adults aged 20 to 24 years had the highest impaired driving rates. However, the largest declines in rates since 2009 were also observed among young drivers. • Almost half of impaired driving incidents reported by police in 2014 occurred between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. This is also the time period which has shown the largest declines in recent years. • Drug-impaired driving incidents were less likely to be cleared by charge than alcohol-impaired driving incidents. When heard by the courts, these cases also took longer to resolve and were less likely to result in a guilty finding. • At least 1 out of 6 persons accused in an impaired driving court case in 2014/2015 had been previously accused in another impaired driving case during the preceding 10 years. • Just under 1 out of 20 drivers in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Yukon and Nunavut admitted to driving in the previous year after consuming two or more drinks in the hour before driving. Of these individuals, 76% had done so more than once. • Healthy lifestyles were generally linked to a lower likelihood of driving impaired, but individuals who play team sports were more likely to report having driven after drinking. • Persons who reported other at-risk behaviours while driving, such as being more aggressive than the average, speeding or using a cell phone, were more likely to report having driven after drinking.
All text and images © 2003 Alcohol In Moderation.