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Driver’s Licence Suspension in Ontario

A driver’s licence suspension may be given for various reasons and for different periods. The general suspensions are imposed either by the Registrar of MTO or by a court order.

Demerit Point System Suspension

Your driver’s licence may be suspended by the Registrar due to many small traffic violations which may cause your accumulated demerit points to reach 15 if you are a fully licensed driver; or nine if you are a new driver. For detailed information regarding how the demerit point system works, please refer to the “Demerit Points”.

Medical Suspension

By law, all doctors must report the names and addresses of everyone 16 years or older who has a condition that may affect their ability to drive safely. For example, addictions to alcohol or drugs are conditions that affect your ability to drive. Doctors must report this information to the Ministry of Transportation but no one else. Your driver’s licence may be suspended by the Registrar until new medical evidence shows that the condition does not pose a safety risk.

Few medical suspensions are lifted before at least 6 months have elapsed and often much longer. In many ways, the impact of a medical suspension is often more serious than that of a DUI conviction.

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Administrative Driver’s Licence Suspension (ADLS)

This suspension takes effect while you are still at the roadside or at the police station. You will be given a suspension notice by a police officer, indicating that the suspension of your licence takes effect immediately. The police officer will take your licence from you and send it back to the MTO.

This suspension is intended to safeguard the licensee and the public, and does not constitute an alternative to any proceeding or penalty. It is separate from any criminal or provincial charges or prosecution which may take place later.

When a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is in the “Warn Range” (BAC: 0.05 to 0.08), his or her driver’s licence will be suspended for a period of three days for your first suspension, seven days for your second suspension within five years, and 30 days for your third suspension within five years of either of the earlier two interlock requirements and counselling programs may also be required.

If your BAC is more than 0.08 mg/ml, or you fail or refuse to give a breath or blood sample when requested by police, your licence will be suspended immediately for 90 days.

A seven-day ADLS may also be imposed where a police officer believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a person was, or has been racing or performing stunts.

Discretionary HTA Suspensions by the Court

Your driver’s licence may be suspended by court order for the following convictions:

  • giving false information:
    • in an application, declaration, affidavit or paper required by the Highway Traffic Act, its Regulations or the Ministry of Transportation.
    • about vehicle liability insurance.
  • for failure to insure your vehicle.
  • for driving offences, such as careless driving or driving 50 km/h or more over the speed limit (s.130, s. 128(15)).

Your driver’s licence may be suspended for up to two years based on the individual circumstances.

Mandatory HTA Suspensions

Your licence will be suspended automatically under the Highway Traffic Act for the following driving-related Criminal Code convictions:

  • criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm (s. 220, 221)
  • manslaughter (s.236)
  • dangerous operation of motor vehicles, vessels and aircraft (s.249)
  • failing to stop while being pursued by police (s.249.1)
  • causing death or bodily harm by criminal negligence or dangerous driving while street racing (s.249.2, 249.3, 249.4)
  • failing to stop or remain at the scene of a collision to escape criminal or civil liability (s.252)
  • driving or having care and control of a vehicle while your ability is impaired by alcohol or drugs, or blood alcohol exceeds 0.08 (s.253)
  • refusing to submit to a breath test for alcohol (s.254)

Under the HTA, you will immediately receive a one-year licence suspension the first time you are convicted for the abovementioned driving-related criminal offence. If you are convicted a second time within a ten-year period, your licence will be suspended for three years. A third time conviction within a ten-year period from the second offence will give you a lifetime suspension, but with a possibility of reinstatement after ten years only if you fulfill certain requirements and only in certain circumstances. Fourth time offenders will be suspended from driving for life with no possibility of reinstatement.

Convictions will remain on your driver’s record for a minimum of ten years. The court can order a longer suspension if it believes that keeping you off the road will ensure safety. It is important to keep in mind that if you are convicted of a DUI in Michigan or New York state, USA, the conviction count towards Ontario totals (and vice versa).

It is also a criminal offence if you operate your vehicle, vessel or aircraft or any railway equipment while disqualified from doing so (s.259 (4) of the Criminal Code). If you are convicted, your driver’s licence will be immediately suspended under the HTA. A minimum of one-year suspension will be imposed for the first conviction, and a minimum two-year suspension for a subsequent conviction with five years will be imposed.

Moreover, your driver’s licence will also be automatically suspended if you are convicted of failing to stop and willfully avoid police during pursuit, if you do not pay a traffic fine when ordered by the court, or if you default on payment of other orders, such as family support (s.198).

The suspension related to the Criminal Code convictions is not an additional penalty imposed for a violation of the Criminal Code, but a Provincial safety suspension of driving privilege to promote road safety.

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