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What are the possible penalties for impaired driving in Ontario?

The penalties imposed for impaired driving in Ontario are some of the toughest in North America. Many people don't fully understand the burden a conviction can place on them until they are convicted. To lighten that burden as much as possible or to prevent a conviction altogether, it is crucial to have an experienced criminal defence lawyer on your side throughout the legal process.

A brief discussion of the penalties for impaired driving may emphasize the importance of developing an effective defence strategy.

In Ontario, there is a so-called "Warn Range" for a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If your BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08, then you have tested in the Warn Range, and you could face the following penalties:

  • First offence: roadside licence suspension for three days; monetary penalty of $150
  • Second offence within five years: roadside licence suspension for seven days; penalty of $150; mandatory alcohol education program
  • Third or subsequent offence within five years: roadside licence suspension for 30 days; ignition interlock for six months; mandatory alcohol treatment program; penalty of $150

If your BAC is shown to be over 0.08, or if you refuse to be tested for alcohol or drugs, then the police will impound your vehicle for seven days; your licence will be suspended at the roadside for 90 days; and you will have to pay a $150 penalty.

If you are later convicted of driving while impaired, then you could face additional penalties, including the following:

  • First offence: licence suspension for one year; ignition interlock for a minimum of one year; a $1,000 fine; mandatory treatment or education program
  • Second offence: a minimum of 30 days in jail; licence suspension for three years; ignition interlock for three years; mandatory treatment or education program; a fine to be determined by the judge
  • Third or subsequent offence: a minimum of 120 days in jail; potential lifetime licence suspension; lifetime ignition interlock; mandatory treatment or education program; a fine to be determined by the judge

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has more on the required education and treatment programs, as well as required medical reviews associated with impaired driving.

For more on protecting the rights and interests of people accused of drinking and driving, please visit our impaired driving defence overview.