Skip to content

Consequences of Impaired Driving In Ontario

Losing your licence because of an impaired driving conviction due to alcohol and/or drugs (including cannabis) can have a massively detrimental effect on your life, especially if you rely on driving to get to work or if you live in a rural area.

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) creates punishments that are in addition to the Criminal Code fines and periods of imprisonment for impaired driving offences, including licence suspensions between 1 year for a first offence to a lifetime for a third offence.

In addition to being subject to the suspensions, these drivers have to complete a remedial measures assessment and education or treatment program (for approximately 10 months), and also have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on their vehicles for between 1 year for a first offence to lifetime for a third offence (if the suspension period is reduced to 10 years). The Ignition Interlock Device is a leased breath alcohol monitoring machine wired into your vehicle’s ignition.

Free DUI Book

Free DUI Book

17 Secrets to Helping You Survive Your DUI Charge.

Get the Free Book

Possible Early Reinstatement of a Suspended Licence

If you meet certain conditions, The Highway Traffic Act allows for early reinstatement of a suspended licence with the installation of the Ignition Interlock Device. This program is divided into “streams,” and which stream you may be eligible for depends on if this is a first or second driving offence.

Program Availability

This program is available for persons:

  • convicted of a first or second impaired or 80 and over driving or refuse breath sample offence,
  • that did not cause bodily harm or death, and
  • did not involve drug impairment.

Program Eligiblity

In order to be eligible, you must:

  • have a car;
  • have valid insurance;
  • not be under another suspension (such as for dangerous driving or a novice driver disqualification); and
  • have your fines fully paid.

Two of the requirements for all streams is to successfully complete the assessment component of the required remedial measures program and to establish proof of a lease agreement for an approved Ignition Interlock Device.

The difference between Stream A and Stream B, which both concern first offences, is that Stream A applies to those who plead guilty and are sentenced within 89 days of being charged. Stream B applies to those who plead guilty and are sentenced later or where the matter goes to trial and they lose. Stream A only applies to those who have not been convicted of an Impaired Operation/Exceed 80 mg and over or Fail to Provide a Breath Sample offence within the last ten (10) years.

For those who have been convicted of an Impaired Operation/Exceed over 80 mg or Fail to Provide a Breath Sample offence within the last ten (10) years, there is an option to pursue Stream D. Stream D requires a guilty plea and sentencing within 89 days of the charge being laid, the same as Stream A.

For second and subsequent convictions for these criminal drinking and driving offences, there are mandatory jail sentences as well.

This program offers a lot of benefits to those facing charges: the opportunity to reduce the time spent without a licence, for example. There is some concern though that it may persuade those who are innocent to falsely plead guilty to get their licence back sooner or because 89 days is not enough time to assess if they have a strong defence. Due to this tight timeframe, it is critical to retain a lawyer quickly so that you can get a clear understanding of your options in order to make a decision.

The New Ontario Impaired Driving Penalties For A First Offence

  • 90 day licence suspension
  • 7 day vehicle impoundment
  • A fine of $550.00 (starting January 2019)
  • $275 licence reinstatement fee
  • Up to a maximum of 10 years in jail
  • Where bodily harm is caused the maximum can be up to 14 years
  • Where death is caused the maximum can be life imprisonment
  • Second offence minimum of 30 days in jail
  • Third offence minimum of 120 days in jail

Additional Other Consequences if Convicted

  • licence suspension of at least 1 year (for first offence)
  • The installation of the Ignition Interlock Device for at least 6 months and a lifetime, depending on the number of prior convictions and the date of each sentencing
  • Being required to attend the Ministry of Transportation “Back on Track” assessment or the assessment and the Educational or Treatment Programs
  • Massive insurance increases
  • A criminal record which may limit your employment prospects
  • Your ability to travel internationally could be affected
  • Your automobile could be seized and sold by the police
  • Possible immigration-citizenship consequences

Ignition Interlock Program

If you are a first-time or second-time offender charged with impaired driving or over 80 and refuse, and there are no drugs involved or no aggravating circumstances, you may be eligible to get a licence suspension of less than one year allowing you to drive with the Interlock Ignition Device instead. You MUST please guilty and be sentenced within 89 days of the charge and the appropriate arrangements must be made ahead of time to qualify.

Ignition Interlock device licence conditions also apply if you are caught driving with a ‘Warn Range’ 0.05 to 0.079 BAC three or more times.

Consequences of Being Caught Driving with a ‘Warn Range’ 0.05 to 0.079 BAC

First Offence

  • 3 day licence suspension
  • Administrative Monetary Penalty of $250 (begins January 2019)
  • $275 licence reinstatement fee

Second Offence (within a 5 year period)

  • 7 day licence suspension
  • Administrative Monetary Penalty of $350 (begins January 2019)
  • Mandatory participation in Alcohol Education Program
  • $275 licence reinstatement fee

Third and Subsequent Offence

  • 30 day licence suspension (3 day suspension for commercial drivers)
  • Administrative Monetary Penalty of $350 (starting January 2019)
  • Mandatory participation in Alcohol Education Program
  • At least 6 month Ignition Interlock licence condition
  • Mandatory medical evaluation
  • $275 licence reinstatement fee

Other Ontario Impaired Driving Penalties

Further fines, jail, probation, weapons prohibitions, DNA orders, increased insurance and many other penalties are possible in addition to the basic fines and driver’s licence suspensions. The sooner we act the more we control the damage.

Ontario has drinking and driving laws that capture drinking and driving behaviours not caught by the federal Criminal Code offences of impaired, 80 mg and over and refuse. The province of Ontario has instituted automatic roadside licence suspensions that immediately remove suspected impaired drivers from the roads. Immediate roadside suspensions are also intended to act as a deterrent, in the hope that they will discourage drivers who have been caught drinking and driving from ever re-offending again. If a driver is caught with a BAC in the “warn range” of 0.05, that driver’s licence will be suspended at roadside for three days. If a driver with a prior “warn range” suspension gets caught again, that person’s driver’s licence will be suspended for seven days. For a third or subsequent occurrence of being caught driving with a BAC in the warn range, the offending driver’s licence will be immediately suspended for 30 days.

Drivers under the age of 21 years and novice drivers, who are not fully licenced, are allowed no alcohol whatsoever in their systems. If caught with any alcohol in their blood, these drivers would get an immediate 24-hour roadside licence suspension and then if convicted, the fully licenced driver who is 21 or under could receive a fine of up to $500 and a 30-day licence suspension. In addition to fines and potential jail time, a novice driver with an impaired driving conviction would also have his or her licence suspended and be required to return to the start of the Graduated Licence System.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario does not recognize pardons. Therefore, despite having received a pardon for a previous drinking and driving offence, you will receive the same driving suspension as if you had not received a pardon. This can result in devastating consequences.

Also, if you have a conviction from certain states in the United States, such as Michigan or New York, in certain circumstances it may count as a “prior” in Canada.

An experienced lawyer can assist you in navigating through these rough waters. Often, simply timing when the accused finishes his/her file, can have a significant beneficial impact in reducing the length of driving suspensions.

Our DUI Lawyers Available to Help

At Aitken Robertson, our team approach gives you an opportunity to meet with our various lawyers to fully discuss the facts of your case. While no lawyer can promise a particular result, we will often be able to give you an initial, honest impression of your case and explain to you the approach that we will take in defending you. If you hire Aitken Robertson we will work with a variety of experts to evaluate the merits of your case.

Aitken Robertson is experienced in assessing the complicated interplay between the Criminal Code and the Highway Traffic Act to avoid the unexpected and unwanted results that await the misinformed.

Contact us today and get started with a free consultation. We have offices throughout Ontario where we can provide you with assistance.

How you can win a dui charge
November 6, 2012

“How Can I Win?” Impaired Driving Defences

Here are five different defences that could be brought up by your defence team if you have been charged for impaired driving.

Richard Aitken criminal lawyer

Richard Aitken

Managing Lawyer
With over 35 years practicing criminal law under his belt, Richard Aitken not only continues to handle his cases but assists the rest of his team with their cases daily. Richard has focused much of his practice on drinking and driving offences and is so passionate about this field of law he owns his own Initializer 8000TM, the instrument used by Ontario police for testing blood alcohol levels.
Edmund Chan - Criminal Lawyer

Edmund Chan

Sole Practitioner Lawyer Affiliated with Aitken Robertson
Edmund has been an Ontario Lawyer for over 25 years and is one of the most experienced Impaired Driving Defence Lawyers in the Province, having handled thousands of Impaired/Over 80 cases, and many other types of Criminal Charges.
Phil Stiles - criminal defence lawyer

Philip Stiles

As a former Crown prosecutor, Mr. Philip Stiles brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Aitken Robertson team. Taking on files in Peterborough, the Kawarthas, and Oshawa, Mr. Stiles serves as counsel to those charged with criminal offences.
Ottawa Criminal Lawyer - Virginia Dolinska

Virginia Dolinska

Sole Practitioner Lawyer Affiliated with Aitken Robertson
A dedicated criminal defence lawyer, Virginia Dolinska earned her J.D. at the University of Ottawa, articled under Richard Aitken, and now leads the firm’s operations in Ottawa, Belleville, and Kingston full-time. Virginia immigrated to Canada from Eastern Europe at a young age and keeps those challenges in mind as she assists those facing challenges of their own.
Edwin Boeve - Criminal Lawyer

Edwin Boeve

Edwin Boeve grew up in the small town of Cobourg and knew I wanted to be a lawyer since high school. I believe it is not just about “guilt” or “innocence” but whether a person’s rights have been infringed by the police. I also believe in giving individuals who make a mistake a second chance.
Dan Lemaire - Criminal Defence Lawyer

Dan Lemaire

Dan Lemaire is a Peterborough local who returned to his home town to article and practice law at Aitken Robertson after earning his J.D. at Queen’s. Dan earned awards for being top of his class in several courses, including criminal law and advanced legal research. Dan is almost as passionate about cooking as he is about the law and spends his free time trying out new recipes.
Sudine Riley - Criminal Lawyer

Sudine Riley

Sudine Riley does all aspects of criminal work, but she has an avid interest and passion to help those charged with sexually related offences.
Channdeep Singh Nagi

Channdeep Singh Nagi

Channdeep takes a client-centric approach to his work and is always on the lookout for any infirmity in the prosecution’s case. He reassures clients that they are being taken care of and believes this is an indispensable part of practicing criminal law.
Roshni Gopaul - Criminal Defence Lawyer

Roshni Gopaul

Sole Practitioner Lawyer Affiliated with Aitken Robertson
I understand the significance of being charged with an offence under the Criminal Code. I understand that it can turn your whole life upside down. I take pride in being able to take some of the stress away from you while protecting your rights.

Recent DUI Cases Handled By Aitken Robertson

CASE STUDY: Impaired driving causing death

Although the charge was very serious, the goal remained the same – acquittal or at least very significant damage control.

CASE STUDY: Fail/Refuse to Provide Breath Sample

Our client was very happy with the outcome here. He was able to keep his driver’s licence and walk away without a criminal record.

CASE STUDY: Impaired, Speeding/Stunt Driving

Our client was very happy about the outcome of her case and very grateful for our advice in moving the matter towards trial.

CASE STUDY: Impaired Operation, Over 80

Our client entered a guilty plea to careless operation under the Highway Traffic Act which resulted in his Criminal Code charges being withdrawn.


Our client was found by a police officer in the live lane of traffic while asleep in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. The vehicle was running. Police arrested Ms. M once they arrived on the scene.

CASE STUDY: Impaired Driving in Oshawa

Mr. G was charged with having care and control of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 80. Mr. G was also charged with having care and control of a motor vehicle while being impaired. Mr. G was found asleep in his motor vehicle.

CASE STUDY: Impaired Driving Charges

Our client, Mr. T, was faced with allegations of impaired driving. He had provided a breath sample that was well over the legal limit. The consequences of an impaired driving conviction in his case would be severe, as he needed to be able to drive for his job.

CASE STUDY: Impaired Driving Charges

Our client, Mr. M, was charged with impaired driving and driving with a blood alcohol concentration of over 80mg alcohol per 100mL of blood. Witnesses to the alleged offence claimed that he had been speeding and weaving in a parking lot. When police arrived at the scene, Mr. M was arrested and brought back to the police station, where he allegedly provided a breath sample above the legal limit.

CASE STUDY: Impaired Driving and Failure to Comply Charges

Our client, Mr. B, had been out on bail for a previous criminal charge when he found himself in more trouble. He was charged with driving while impaired by a drug and failure to comply with a release order. He was accused of speeding and weaving, and there was an alleged altercation with a civilian witness at the scene.

CASE STUDY: Refusing a breath sample in Cobourg

Because of the client’s legal aspirations, it was important to him that the situation be resolved without appearing on his criminal record.

CASE STUDY: Impaired Driving, Over 80, Criminal Harassment in Brampton

In order to negotiate a plea deal with the Crown, our lawyer aimed to raise doubt regarding the Crown’s reasonable prospect of conviction in this case.

CASE STUDY: Impaired Driving, Over 80 in Oshawa

With the Crown unwilling to withdraw the criminal charges against our client, the goal was to go to trial and to have our client found not guilty.

Recent Client Comments About Our Help with DUIs

Free DUI Book

Free DUI Book

17 Secrets to Helping You Survive Your DUI Charge.

Get the Free Book


Tell us a bit about yourself and the situation.  Completing this form helps us book your free consultation with the most appropriate lawyer at our firm and at a time that is most convenient to you.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Let's start with the basics. What is your name?

Please note that the submission of this form does not mean that we are your retained lawyer. This is a form establishing preliminary information regarding the scheduling of a free, 30-minute consultation. Any personal information collected through means such as consultation forms will not be conveyed or shared except to the extent necessary to properly represent you and your case. Aitken Robertson will never sell any personal information. We value your privacy.