This is Part Two of a three-part series on the law around novice driving and graduated licensing in Ontario. This scenario was written by JFCY PLE Team volunteer Leslie-Anne Walker, a student at Ryerson University. To see Part 1, click here and to see Part 3, click here.
Scenario: Alicia and the grade 12 house party
Alicia is a seventeen-year old Grade 12 student who has just gotten her G2 license. Tonight she’s going to a holiday house party with some friends who will be drinking, despite the fact that they’re not yet age 19. Normally Alicia will have a few drinks at parties as well, but tonight she’s so excited about her new license that she decides to "take one for the team" and be the designated driver.
That night, her friends decide to meet up at their friend Natalie’s house to have a few drinks before heading to the party. Everyone’s having fun and they lose track of time. Before they know it, they’re running late: it is after midnight! Everybody rushes to finish their drinks and get their coats and boots on, but Natalie has just cracked open a new vodka cooler. Natalie insists she bring the cooler with her in the car, because leaving it “would be a waste.” Natalie is clearly intoxicated, and Alicia doesn’t want to spoil the good mood everyone is in by picking a fight, so she figures“whatever, she’s not the one driving so who cares?”
On the way to the party, they come across a R.I.D.E. program checking for intoxicated drivers. As she pulls up to the police officer on her side of the road, Alicia is worried for her friends, who are all underage and clearly intoxicated. Still, she’s grateful that she hasn’t touched any drinks and isn’t doing anything wrong herself. She rolls down her window, and the officer peers inside.
“Good evening, have you had anything to drink tonight?” he asks.
“Nothing at all,” says Alicia, looking him straight in the eye.
But the officer isn’t looking at Alicia; he’s looking at the backseat.
“Is that open liquor in your hand?” he asks Natalie, who is clearly too drunk to have even attempted to hide the bottle.
'Oh no, poor Natalie,' thinks Alicia as she cranes her head around to cast her friend a sympathetic glance. 'She’s only 17; she could get in a lot of trouble for underage drinking.'
But when Alicia turns around again, the officer is addressing her. “It’s illegal to have open alcohol in your car miss. License and registration, please.”
“What?” thinks Alicia, her head spinning. With her heart pounding, she reaches for the glove compartment.
Legal Troubles for Alicia?
While Alicia made a smart choice to keep her friends safe by not drinking and driving, she could still have some legal trouble as a result of driving in these circumstances.
Since Alicia is a novice driver and under the age of 21, she can face legal penalties as a result of violating the rules of Ontario's Graduating Licensing System, as well as other laws.
Here is a quick summary of some the charges that Alicia could be facing. For a full explanation of the law, please stay tuned later this week to Part 3 of this blog series.
1) Since it is illegal to drive when there is open alcohol in the car, Alicia could be charged under s. 32 of the Liquor Licence Act.
2) Because Alicia is under age 19 and has had her G2 license for less than six months, she was not supposed to drive any passengers between midnight and 5am (unless the passenger has their Glass G license), thus violating the Highway Traffic Act.
3) The passengers in Alicia's car have consumed alcohol while under the age of 19 and thus can be charged under the Liquor Licence Act.
For a full explanation of these laws, stayed tuned for Part 3 of this blog series.
This post was written by JFCY PLE Team volunteer Leslie-Anne Walker. Legal info by JFCY.