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Facing a Possible Second DUI Conviction in Ottawa – Will I Ever Drive Again?

Ontario laws take impaired driving very seriously; even more so since the advent of the legislative changes on December 8, 2018, which set out harsher punishments for DUI convictions. While a first conviction can be viewed as a mistake, a second one is not. When an accused person is facing a second impaired driving charge, the prosecutor will seek higher penalties and this can include jail time.

Now, while you may have a conviction under the Criminal Code for impaired driving and have your licence suspended for a particular period, there are options available to have your licence reinstated sooner through the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

Ministry of Transportation Program for DUI Convictions

The Ministry of Transportation has what is called the “Back on Track Remedial Measures Program,” which allows you to drive sooner than later. In order to have your licence reinstated sooner, you will be required to install an interlock ignition into your car. You will need to register with an approved interlock service provider to have the device installed. You qualify to sign up for Ontario’s Ignition Interlock Program if you are:

  • convicted of an impaired driving-related offence under the Criminal Code of Canada
  • suspended three or more times within a 10-year period for any combination of:
  • driving with a BAC above zero while you are 21 years and under;
  • driving with a BAC above zero while you are a novice driver;
  • driving with a BAC above 0.05 (“warn range”);
  • driving with a BAC above 0.08 (“legal limit”);
  • failing or refusing to comply with a demand for alcohol or drug testing; and
  • driving impaired by a drug or a combination of a drug and alcohol.

Ignition interlock Pre-requisites

To qualify to use the ignition interlock in your car, you must first serve all the provincial sanctions imposed upon you. These include serving a licence suspension (typically three months), paying the reinstatement, paying the administrative monetary penalty and completing the Back on Track Program.

When you have an ignition interlock, a condition is placed on your driver’s license in the form of (“I”). The length of time depends on then number of convictions you have.

For example, for first time offenders, the symbol remains for a minimum of 1 year; for second time offenders, a minimum of 3 years and third time offenders attracts a variable of either 1 year, 3 years or indefinitely.

Penalties

If you operate a vehicle in violation of an ignition interlock licence condition, your vehicle will be impounded for 7 days by the police. You may face further charges under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Highway Traffic Act.

If you drive while your licence is suspended for a Criminal Code conviction, your vehicle will be impounded for:

  • 45 days for a first impoundment
  • 90 days for a second impoundment
  • 180 days for a third or subsequent impoundment

You may also be charged with a further offence under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Highway Traffic Act.

Drivers convicted of driving without an ignition interlock device or for tampering with the device will face fines under the Highway Traffic Act ranging from:

  • $200 – $20,000 for commercial vehicles
  • $200 – $1,000 for other motor vehicles

Vehicle owners who knowingly allow a person with an ignition interlock condition to drive their vehicle may also be convicted under the Highway Traffic Act.

The New Stream “D” 

Under the MTO, there are what is referred to as “Streams” that allow your year long suspension (or more) imposed under the Criminal Code to be shortened with the use of their interlock ignition program. It was the case that these streams were only available to first time offenders until recently. Now, second time offenders have the option to access the streams offered under the MTO, albeit a different one in terms of conditions and requirements.

What is Stream “D” and Who Qualifies for it?

A second time offender faces an automatic 3-year suspension from the Ministry of Transportation. Before the onset of Stream D, only first time offenders were eligible to join the Reduced Suspension and Ignition Interlock Program. Now, second time offenders are able to take advantage of the program. This is very good news. Why? We are glad you asked. Under the Stream D, you can reduce your 3-year driving suspension to a 9-month suspension and begin driving immediately after with an interlock ignition installed in your car for a period of 18 months.

Prerequisites

The offence date must have occurred on July 1, 2018 or thereafter. An accused person must plead guilty within 89 days after the offence date. Beyond this date, the Stream D program is not available. The program is also not available should an accused person choose to go to trial.

Factors that Disqualify your Eligibility
  • You were not convicted of an offence where bodily harm or death was caused
  • There cannot be any pre-existing lifetime driving ban
  • There cannot have been any drugs involved in the circumstances of the offence
  • You have not previously been granted a reduction to 10 years of an indefinite licence suspension
  • You were not subject to an ignition interlock licence condition on the date of the offence
  • You were not convicted of a drive while disqualified offence under subsection 259(4) of the Criminal Code within the 10 years before your alcohol-impaired driving conviction

What Next?

Recall you have to make a decision within the 89-day period post-offence if you want to apply for the Back on Track Remedial Measures Program. There are a few steps that you need to take before that through the court system. Accordingly, do not hesitate to contact our office to access our 30- minute free consultation and learn about your options and next steps.

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