Nunatsiaq News
COMMENTARY: Nunavut December 21, 2017 - 10:59 am

Legal Ease, Dec. 21

This Xmas, please look after yourself


The Christmas and New Year’s Eve season is a time to spend with family and loved ones. 

Everyone goes to parties and often people overindulge in food and drink.  While eating too much is a bad idea—and can give you a stomach ache—drinking too much can lead to legal problems.

If you are drinking yourself, you have a responsibility to make sure you do not do anything foolish.

If you know drinking makes you mean and violent, you shouldn’t drink at parties at all.

If you must drink, stay home by yourself. Getting charged with assault or worse—hurting someone you love—is not a good way to spend the holidays.

Beyond that, if you can otherwise handle your liquor, you have to think about drinking and driving.

The obvious point being, if you are going to be drinking, you should not drive. Don’t say “I’ll only have one” and then decide you are fit to drive.

The alcohol limit for operating a motor vehicle is quite low and even a single drink can take you to the legal limit, depending on your weight and size.

Regardless, winter driving is often more challenging that driving in the summer—although summertime potholes are no fun—and you need all your wits about you.

One point that people sometimes forget is that driving any motor vehicle is not allowed if you are intoxicated.

That means more than just cars; it includes snow machines, motorcycles and pretty well any powered means of transport.

I once had an impaired case of a man who was very drunk and riding a lawnmower.

Granted that’s not likely as a means of transport in Rankin Inlet on Dec. 25, but you get the point.

Plan ahead and get a ride, grab a taxi or stay the night, but don’t drink and drive.

If you are hosting a party you have to take reasonable steps to make sure your guests get home safe and don’t hurt anyone else, because they are drunk.

This means that you must take reasonable steps to stop people who have been drinking from driving.

Offer to let them sleep on the chesterfield. Give them a cab fare home. If you are quite sober, drive them home yourself. If necessary, take away their car keys.

You will be helping your friends avoid a criminal charge, but more important than that, you’ll be making sure they don’t get themselves or someone else killed in an accident.

Beyond stopping people from driving, you should also make sure they will get home safe, even if they are not driving. Someone who is intoxicated might wander onto the road and get hit by a car.

Or they might stumble and fall and freeze to death. This is Canada and it is the winter. You need to make sure they will get home in one piece or let them spend the night.

All these things seem to be less than holiday spirited—but in fact they are the height of Christmas spirit.

All the law asks is that you look after yourself and be a good host and protect your guests. It’s just common sense.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

James Morton is a lawyer practising in Nunavut with offices in Iqaluit. The comments here are intended as general legal information and not as specific legal advice.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share