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Driving With A Suspended Licence in Ontario

If you have been charged with driving with a suspended licence in Ontario that had been suspended due to driving-related Criminal Code offences such as drinking and driving (as opposed to having had your licence suspended for a Highway Traffic Act offence), you will face the following penalties:

Your vehicle will be impounded for a minimum of 45 days.
On conviction, you are liable for a fine between $5,000 and $25,000 for the first offence, followed by a fine between $10,000 and $50,000 for each subsequent offence within five years.
There will also be another licence suspension under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act:
one year for a first offence,
two years for subsequent offences and up to two years in jail and,
a three-year licence suspension under the Criminal Code.
If you are charged with driving with a licence that had been suspended for a Highway Traffic Act offence, you are facing a seven-day vehicle impoundment, a fine of between $1000 and $5000 for a first offence and between $2000 and $5000 for a subsequent offence within five years. You may also get up to six months in jail or a fine or both. As well, six months will be added to your current suspension.

For detailed information about immediate driver’s licence suspension under the HTA for driving-related Criminal Code convictions, please refer to “Mandatory HTA Suspensions.”

A conviction for driving under suspension will be kept on record for at least five years. Your insurance premiums will be increased for several years and you might even be disqualified from your existing insurance coverage. For information about how traffic tickets impact your insurance premium, please refer to the section  “Insurance Premiums.”

It is always recommended to fight the charge. Although this offence is one of absolute liability, meaning you do not have to intend to do the act to be found guilty, and due diligence is not available as a defence, the prosecution still needs to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt. There are some general defences available on a case-by-case basis.

Driving under “Prohibited Range” (BAC: > 0.08) (s.48.3)

If you drive a vehicle while your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above 0.08 (Prohibited Range), your driver’s licence will be suspended at the roadside for a period of 90 days under the Highway Traffic Act. The suspension takes effect from the time notice of the suspension is given by the police. You should be requested to surrender your driver’s licence to the officer. The vehicle will be impounded for seven days on the roadside.

On conviction for impaired driving under s.253 of the Criminal Code, you will immediately receive a suspension of one year for the first conviction, three years for the first subsequent conviction, indefinite suspension for additional subsequent convictions under the HTA. The vehicle may be impounded by a court order for three months.

This is a Criminal Code offence and a prosecution could be initiated under the Criminal Code against you later. The following is a further explanation about the penalties both under the HTA and Criminal Code:

Driving while BAC: > 0.08 (Impaired Driving)

* the penalty under the Canadian Criminal Code: only for where there was no bodily harm or death. Determining a subsequent conviction: within a 10-year period.
# of ConvictionsLicence Suspension (Roadside)Licence Suspension (on Conviction)Fine*Imprisonment (Summary Conviction) Interlock Requirements Will Apply
1st Conviction90 days1 yearMore than $1000-
2nd Conviction90 days3 years-30 days
Subsequent Convictions90 daysIndefinite30 days aa120 days

If you are convicted, you can get your suspended licence back sooner by attending the Reduced Suspension with Ignition Interlock Conduct Review Program, effective since August 3, 2010. For detailed information about how this program works, please refer to “Reduced Suspension with Ignition Interlock Conduct Review Program”.

You will be assigned to the conduct review programs – Back on Track and the Ignition Interlock Program. For more information about the programs, please refer to “Additional Consequences Regarding Drinking and Driving”.

The Administrative Monetary Penalty ($150) will also need to be paid before the reinstatement of your driver’s licence.

Driving under the “Prohibited Range” has very serious legal and financial consequences both under the HTA and Criminal Code. The conviction will be kept on your HTA record for, at least ten years and on your criminal record until you receive a pardon. It will dramatically increase your Insurance Premiums.

The following table focuses on the financial consequences you may face before and after you are convicted:

Financial Consequences of Driving with BAC >0.08

Increased Insurance Estimate: initially 2x current rate.
Minimum of $1,000 fine under the Criminal Code conviction, 15% or more Fine Surcharge.
Driving while BAC > 0.08Suspension (Roadside)Impoundment (Roadside) and Tow AdministrativeMonetary PenaltyBack on TrackIgnition Interlock
Length of Suspension90 days7 days-3 parts (8 or 16 hours)1st offence - 1 year; 2nd offence - 3 years; 3 or more offences - indefinite
Estimated Cost-Tow and Implound$150$578Installation $155 plus tax; Deinstallation $50 plus tax; Monthly $105
Estimated Total Cost-$800$150$578-

Increased Insurance Estimate: initially 2x current rate.
Minimum of $1,000 fine under the Criminal Code conviction, 15% or more Fine Surcharge.

Under the HTA, the 90-day Administrative Driver’s Licence Suspension can be appealed under the following grounds:

  1. you are not the person whose breath or blood was tested;
  2. you failed to give a sample of breath or blood due to a medical reason and have proof of same.

The best thing to do is to choose either to drink or to drive, but not both. In reality, good people make mistakes. So, once you made a mistake, it is always advisable to obtain some legal advice. With experienced legal representation, your rights will be better protected. By better understanding the procedure, you could get the suspended driver’s licence back sooner.

Driving under “Warn Range” (BAC: 0.05 to 0.08) (s.48)

Driving while the BAC is in the “Warn Range” is a serious issue under the Highway Traffic Act. You will face a roadside suspension for three days for the first time, seven days for the second time within a five-year period and 30 days for the third time and other subsequent offences with a five-year period.

Administrative Monetary Penalty in the amount of $150, mandatory alcohol education program, or longer time suspension and other consequences you will bear for subsequent offences.

The following table gives a detailed explanation about penalties and financial consequences:

Driving under “Warn Range” (BAC: 0.05 to 0.08)

A subsequent offence is an offence with a period of five years.
Other penalties such as discretionary suspension, fine, etc may be imposed by the court.
ConsequenceFirst TimeSecond TimeThird TimeSubsequent Offence
Roadside Suspension3 days7 days30 days30 days
Alcohol Education Program-Education Course ($178)Treatment Course ($178)Treatment Course ($178)
Ignition Interlock--6 months (Installation: $125 De-Installation: $25 Monthly: $95)6 months (Installation: $125 De-Installation: $25 Monthly: $95)
Medical Evaluation---Mandatory
Administrative Monetary Penalty$150$150$150$150
Estimated Insurance Increase ($3,000 per year for 3 years)$9000$9000$9000$9000
Total Estimated Cost (Excl. Taxes)$9,150$9,328$10,048$10,048

These roadside licence suspensions are short-term suspensions and not subject to an appeal. Suspensions will be recorded on the driver’s record. For up to five years, these roadside suspensions will be considered when determining consequences for subsequent infractions.

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