How to avoid getting fined $1,744 in Nova Scotia

If you're new to Nova Scotia, you'll discover that our police officers are nice people, but they have little patience for disorderly behaviour—especially in residential areas.

piggybank Photo: Skitterphoto

If you hear someone talk about how the police and Dal Security aren’t allowed in residence buildings (so you can drink or smoke illegally and not get caught), don’t believe it! It’s a myth. It’s also a myth that you’re allowed to carry alcohol around campus in opaque containers (red Solo cups, water bottles, etc.).

Tip: Don’t forget to complete the Start on Track – Online alcohol & substance use safety module on Brightspace.

If you’re caught, you’ll get ticketed. And more often than not they’ll charge each offence separately, meaning you could be on the hook for a lot of money. And I mean a lot of money! Here’s what you could be in for:

Keep the noise to a minimum

House parties that unreasonably disrupt the neighbourhood will result in $467.50 tickets for all residents named on the lease of that house. That means even if you weren't the one who was making noise, you will still be fined. And if you get a second ticket, it'll be $927.50. Any tickets after that are a whopping $1,272.50! Noise by-laws are in effect 24/7, so respect your neighbours and keep it at a reasonable level.

The legal drinking age is 19

If you’re caught drinking alcohol (in public or private) before you turn 19, you could be charged and land yourself a $467.50 fine. And remember: if you live in residence, it's against the rules (and law) to drink alcohol in your room (or anyone else's) if you're underage.

Don't pass yourself off as someone else

Think you can get around the underage drinking thing with a nice piece of identification that says you're a 35-year-old doctor from Budapest? Getting caught using "false proof of age to purchase liquor" will cost you $295. 

Don't drink outside

Having open alcohol (called “illegal possession” under the Liquor Control Act) will also get you a $467.50 fine.

Open alcohol is considered the following:

  • a travel mug or cup with alcohol (they can and do check travel mugs)
  • a bottle of alcohol that’s been opened (even if you’re not drinking it when you’re found with it)
  • a bottle of wine that’s been re-corked, open bottles or cans of beer (they must be in the packaging in which they were sold)


Don't smoke outside designated areas

Now that cannabis is legal there are a few new by-laws to take note of. The fine for smoking or vaping (cannabis or tobacco) is $25 to $2,000 per offence. If you don't pay it it's a maximum of 30 days in jail. Definitely not worth it! You can find information about where smoking is allowed on the Halifax Municipality website.

Don't act like a jerk

If you’re found drunk in a public place, you’ll be arrested for public intoxication which comes with a $134 ticket AND a night's stay in the drunk tank. Public intoxication doesn’t necessarily mean passed-out drunk or obviously staggering. It doesn’t matter if you don’t “feel” drunk. Strike up that debate with the police and it generally goes downhill pretty quickly. If the police are going to lay a charge, all they’re required to do is be able to articulate the presence of one or more “signs of impairment,” including:

  • smell of alcohol
  • unsteady on feet
  • speech (slurred, overly talkative, etc..)
  • bloodshot eyes
  • red face
  • agitated and/or combative

Think of it this way...

If you’re underage ($467.50), using fake ID ($295), publicly intoxicated ($134), and walking outside with your red Solo Cup ($467.50) between buildings, that's a total of $1,364 in fines! And if you happen to be doing all that while making a ton of noise at your house party, you can add at least another $467.50 to that total. That’s one expensive drink (or joint)!

Chances are you probably have better uses for all that money. So be smart. And remember to look after your friends, too.