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What is the Ignition Interlock Remedial Measures Program?

Besides the fines and driver’s licence suspensions to which you would be subject if caught driving impaired or with a blood alcohol concentration above either the legal limit (“80 and over”) or over the administrative limit (“50 and over”), there are even more DUI consequences in Ontario of which you should be aware. The additional punishments are meant to improve an offender’s future driving behaviour.

The law in Ontario provides for two levels of offences based on Blood Alcohol Level (BAC). The “warn range” is BAC in the range of 0.05 and 0.79 mg/ml. The “prohibited range” indicates that BAC is above 0.08 mg/ml or higher and will produce more serious financial and legal consequences. Having a BAC in the prohibited range is a criminal offence and if convicted, will leave you with a criminal record. Similarly, if you are convicted of “impaired” driving, regardless of your BAC, you will have a criminal record.

Interlock Device Installation

An ignition interlock device is used to ascertain the presence of alcohol in the driver’s body and to prevent a motor vehicle from being started if the BAC in the driver’s body exceeds zero. Mandatory interlock device installation is an additional punishment under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) for drivers convicted of impaired driving or convicted of driving with a BAC “80 or over” (BAC: ≥ 0.08) as defined under the Criminal Code, or found to be driving within the warning range, which means having a BAC of “50 or over” but under 80” (BAC: 0.05 to 0.79) as defined under the HTA.

BAC > 0.08, Impaired Driving Under the Canadian Criminal Code

# of ConvictionsDriver's Licence SuspensionInterlock Device After Suspension
1st Conviction1 year1 year
2nd Conviction3 years3 years
Subsequent ConvictionsindefinitePermanent if indefinite suspension is reduced
Determining a Subsequent ConvictionWithin a 10-year period

BAC: 0.05 to 0.08 Under the HTA

# of ConvictionsDriver's Licence SuspensionInterlock Device After Suspension
1st Conviction3 daysN/A
2nd Conviction7 daysN/A
Subsequent Convictions30 days6 months
Determining a Subsequent ConvictionWithin a 5-year period

Conduct Review Programs (Reg. 287/08)

In Ontario, there are programs for alcohol or drug involved convictions under the HTA, designed to improve an offender’s behaviour and accountability. If a police officer finds, upon taking a breath sample from you that you were driving with a BAC of “50 or over” you will have your driver’s licence suspended immediately at roadside and will face an administrative monetary penalty of $150. If it is not your first such offence, you will also be required to participate in some or all of a conduct review program. In Ontario, the conduct review programs consist of a remedial measures program (Back on Track) and an ignition interlock device program. (Ignition Interlock Program).

Back on Track

Back on Track is Ontario’s remedial measures program for impaired drivers and drivers convicted of “80 or over” (BAC: ≥ 0.08). It is operated by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Back on Track consists of the following three components:

  • Preliminary Assessment
  • Remedial Education Program (8 hours) or Treatment program (16 hours),
  • Follow-up Interview

Criminally convicted drivers must complete at least two and often all three components of the Back on Track program before the licence suspension expires and satisfy all other requirements set by the court in order to have their licence reinstated. Convicted impaired drivers should register immediately upon conviction as the program can take up to 11 months to complete.

If you were suspended for having a BAC of “80 or over” (BAC: ≥ 0.08) and this is your second such offence, you are required to complete the Education Program (8 hours). If this is your third such offence you must complete the Treatment Program (16 hours). Beyond three such offences, you will also be subject to a mandatory medical evaluation. Drivers will have 120 days from the start of the suspension period to complete the education course and 180 days to complete the treatment course.

Ignition Interlock Program

If you are convicted of a drinking and driving offence under the Criminal Code, or if you have three or more suspensions in a five-year period for having a BAC between 0.05 and 0.79 you will be subject to Ontario’s Ignition Interlock Program.

After serving the provincial sanctions, including licence suspension, fine and a mandatory remedial measures program (Back on Track), all drivers convicted of drinking and driving Criminal Code offences, who are eligible to have their driver’s licence reinstated, will have an ignition interlock condition placed on their Ontario driver’s licence.

  • First-time offenders will have an ignition interlock condition on their licence for a minimum of one year.
  • Second-time offenders will have the condition for a minimum of three years.
  • Third-time offenders will have the condition on their licence indefinitely if it is reinstated after a minimum 10-year suspension.

The program does not apply to fourth-time offenders because their licence will never be reinstated (although these lifetime licence suspensions may be reduced after 10 years if certain criteria are met). Drivers who are suspended for registering a BAC between 0.05 and 0.79 three or more times in a five-year period between each offence, will have an ignition interlock condition placed on their licences for six months after serving their 30-day licence suspension.

Reduced Suspension with Ignition Interlock Conduct Review Program

This program enables drivers who were convicted of Criminal Code drinking and driving offences for the first or second time, to reinstate their driver’s licence sooner by installing an approved ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Such drivers must meet the following criteria:

  • Driver’s licence has been suspended for one year as a result of a first-time conviction for drinking and driving offences or refusal to blow into a roadside screening device or approved instrument (on or after August 3 2010) OR driver’s licence has been suspended for three years as a result of a second-time conviction for drinking and driving offences or refusal to blow into a roadside screening device or approved instrument (on or after July 1 2018);
  • must complete the assessment component of Back on Track prior to early licence reinstatement;
  • the circumstances of the offence did not involve impairment by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol;
  • not convicted of an offence where bodily harm or death is caused;
  • not convicted of a “driving while disqualified” offence within the five years preceding their drinking and driving conviction;
  • not subject to a court order denying them the authorization to drive with an ignition interlock device during the prohibition period;
  • not subject to an ignition interlock licence condition on the date of the offence;
  • not previously been granted a reduction to 10 years of an indefinite licence suspension; and
  • sign a lease agreement for an ignition interlock device with the approved ignition interlock service provider.

Before successfully entering this program, eligible drivers must pay all outstanding fees and all other active suspensions must have expired or been removed.

Those who are not eligible for or who choose not to participate in the programs will be subject to the standard penalties under the Highway Traffic Act. First convictions carry a one-year licence suspension, second convictions carry a three-year licence suspension, and both have mandatory Ignition Interlock Device installation periods after the suspension.

Eligible drivers who choose to participate in these programs will be placed in one of three streams. Drivers in Stream “A” will have their licence suspension reduced to a minimum of three months, followed by a minimum nine-month Ignition Interlock period. Drivers in Stream “B” will have a minimum licence suspension of six months and a minimum Ignition Interlock period of twelve months. Drivers eligible for the program who do not meet the requirements for Stream “A” may be eligible for Stream “B”.

Stream “D” is offered to second-time offenders, and such drivers will have their licence suspended for nine months followed by eighteen months with an Ignition Interlock device.

First Conviction

Standard PenaltyStream AStream B
Licence Suspension
12 Year

Ignition Interlock
1 Year

Total Time
2 Years
Licence Suspension
3 Months

Ignition Interlock
9 Months

Total Time
1 Year
Licence Suspension
6 Months

Ignition Interlock
12 Months

Total Time
1.5 Years

Second Conviction

Standard PenaltyStream D

Licence Suspension
3 Years

Ignition Interlock
3 Years

Total Time
6 Years

Licence Suspension
9 Months

Ignition Interlock
18 Months

Total Time
27 Months

Drivers who are eligible for the program will receive an individualized information package from the Ministry of Transportation with information on how to meet the requirements for entry into the program in one of the three streams. The package will include the application instructions, will identify the mandatory periods of suspension and interlock installation, and provide timelines that must be met to enter the program.

If you choose not to participate in one of the streams, then the standard penalty periods of suspension apply. For example, for a first offence you would have a one-year licence suspension, followed by a one-year period of having the Interlock requirement. If you choose not to drive during that second year, you should still reinstate your licence which will have the interlock restriction on it and let the restriction expire. If you do not reinstate your licence while waiting out the two years and then apply for a licence, your new licence will have the one-year Interlock restriction.

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