Results of CAA-Quebec study: Convictions for driving while impaired can be financially devastating for young drivers

QUEBEC, Dec. 22 – Young adults who are convicted of an impaired driving offence will not only have a mark against their driving records for many years to come, but will also find themselves saddled with a huge financial burden, according to a recent study conducted by CAA-Quebec. The study reveals that the cost of a conviction can reach $7,931, to be exact — starting in the first year following the conviction.

Last year at this time, CAA-Quebec published the results of a similar study that looked at the case of a 40-year-old male driver convicted of driving his Honda Accord. “This year, we wanted to do the same thing, but contrast the results with those obtained for a 24-year-old male who drives a 2002 Honda Civic,” explains Yvon Lapointe, CAA-Quebec’s director of traffic safety and automotive research.

The basic amounts to be paid are the same for the two age categories (see chart). Whether our male driver is aged 24 or 40, the cost for vehicle towing and for the obligatory summary evaluation of alcohol-related behaviours is the same. The big difference is in terms of the insurance cost: the yearly premium of $2,525 that our 24-year-old offender paid on his Honda Civic 2002 when he had a clean driving record jumps immediately to a whopping $7,083 upon his conviction for such an offence.

“Young drivers already have to pay a much higher premium to insure their vehicles,” Mr. Lapointe points out. “If on top of that they have a mark on their record for driving while impaired, they face huge financial difficulties — especially considering that at that age, their ability to pay is often limited.”

And these direct expenses are only the tip of the iceberg. The impacts of an impaired-driving conviction are felt on many other fronts: from living with a criminal record to lost work days, the inconvenience caused by loss of driving privileges, and a damaged reputation. Moreover, given that the case studies used by CAA-Quebec were not examined in the context of road accidents, the statistics in the chart do not include the expenses and liability that would also be borne in case of loss or damages.

“Drinking and driving is one of the main causes of death on Quebec’s roads,” Mr. Lapointe says. “Add to that the fact that between 1999 and 2003, 36.2% of drivers aged 20 to 24 who died in road accidents had blood alcohol levels higher than the legal limit of 0.08 and it becomes clear that we have a long way to go in terms of raising young people’s awareness.”

A not-for-profit organization active in traffic safety since its foundation in 1904, CAA Quebec provides a wide range of automotive, travel, residential and financial services to 840,000 members in Quebec.

Driver aged 24 (1) Driver aged 40 (2)
Consequences $
Immediate 30-day driver’s licence suspension    
Immediate 30-day driver’s licence suspension    
Towing fees $85
($75 + $10 special tax, Taxi Bureau)
($75 + $10 special tax, Taxi Bureau)
Vehicle storage $18 (24 hrs) $18 (24 hrs)
One-year driver’s licence suspension and one-year driving prohibition    
Minimum fine $600
(Article 255 Cr. C.)
(Article 255 Cr. C.)
Alcofrein information session $150
(including taxes)
(including taxes)
Obligatory basic evaluation to determine whether offender’s alcohol-related behaviour obstructs responsible driving $159
(including taxes)
(including taxes)
Possible installation of an ignition interlock (pending the judge’s approval), and only after being prohibited from driving for a minimum of three months    
Installation $155
(including taxes)
(including taxes)
Monthly rental fees (nine months @ $95/mo. plus taxes — optional insurance was not considered; covered by offender’s private auto insurance) $983
(including taxes)
(including taxes)
Legal fees    
Two hours’ consultation @ $75/hr (conservative estimate based on basic hourly rate. Source: Quebec Bar Assoc.) $173
(including taxes)
(including taxes)
Supplementary insurance payment to the SAAQ to obtain a new driver’s licence $300 $300
Supplementary insurance payment to the SAAQ to obtain a new driver’s licence    
Impact on private auto insurance    
Male driver aged 24: Rate increase to $7,083 from $2,525 $4,558
(including taxes)
(including taxes)
Male driver aged 40: Rate increase to $4,913 from $1,684    
U.S. entry requirements following a first alcohol-related driving offence with no aggravating circumstances: be prepared to produce a copy of your court judgement and an English translation. Cost of translation-professional translator referred by the Quebec Bar Association. $376 $376
Subsequent alcohol-related driving offence or alcohol-related driving offence with aggravating circumstances: or or
A U.S. entry waiver is required to cross the U.S. border (must be renewed and paid each year offender travels to the United States). Rush processing, 10- to 12-month delay. $750 $750
TOTAL $7,931 $6,602

(1) These figures apply to a 24-year-old male driver with a previously clean driving record who owns a 2002 Honda Civic and lives in the Montreal area.

(2) These figures apply to a 40-year-old male driver with a previously
clean driving record who owns a 2005 Honda Accord and lives in the
Montreal area.