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New Impaired Driving Laws

The Ontario government has recently made some important changes to the laws governing impaired driving. At Kostman & Pyzer, we are often approached by individuals who have been charged with an drinking and driving- related offence such as “impaired driving” or “over 80”. These individuals face criminal charges which can result in driving suspensions, fines, and jail time. If you are facing one of these charges and you contact our office, we will fight for your rights and make full answer and defence to these charges.

However, the new laws regarding drinking and driving are not aimed at traditionally criminal behaviour and operate differently than the criminal charges usually faced by our clients. The new rules do not target drivers who are found to have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (“BAC”) over the legal limit (0.08). Rather, they target individuals who are found to have a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08. This is traditionally referred to as the “warn range”. Before May 1st, 2009, drivers found operating motor vehicles with a BAC in the warn range were given a warning and received an automatic 12-hour driver’s license suspension. This course of action was taken no matter how many times an individual was found with a BAC in the warn range.

As of May 1, 2009, the procedure for dealing with individuals found driving with alcohol levels within the warn range has changed significantly. Individuals now face increasingly stringent consequences each time they are caught within the warn range.

First Infraction

  • 3 day license suspension
  • $150 fine.

Second Infraction (within 5 years)

  • 7 day license suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol education program
  • $150 fine.

Third Infraction (within 5 years)

  • 30 day license suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol education program
  • 6 month ignition interlock condition placed on driver’s license for six months. (This condition means that the individual cannot drive any car that does not have an ignition interlock system installed for sixth months from the infraction).
  • $150 fine.

Subsequent Infractions (within 5 years)

  • 30 day license suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol education program
  • Mandatory medical evaluation
  • 6 month ignition interlock condition placed on driver’s license for six months. (This condition means that the individual cannot drive any car that does not have an ignition interlock system installed for sixth months from the infraction).
  • $150 fine.

The new penalties are imposed automatically based on the results of a roadside breath test. If that test registers a BAC in the warn range, your license can be immediately suspended by the police. The officer on the scene will confiscate your license and send it to the Ministry of Transportation. You will not be able to drive home. If there is a sober, licensed alternative driver in the vehicle, that individual can drive you home. If not, you will have to leave the car on the side of the road. If you are pulled over in an unsafe location, the police will have the vehicle towed at your expense. When the suspension period ends, you will receive a reinstatement notice in the mail which will usually include a Temporary Driver’s License (unless there are other outstanding issues with your license). You may then go to a Driver and Vehicle License Issuing Office to pay the $150 fine, after which a new license will be issued to you through the mail.

Unlike the traditional drinking and driving charges mentioned above (“impaired driving” or “over 80”), individuals found driving with a BAC in the warn range do not have a right to a trial. There is no mechanism available to appeal this type of roadside license suspension. These suspensions will appear on your driving record. They will be considered for up to five years in determining penalties for subsequent infractions. These infractions may also carry insurance consequences. However, it is important to note that these infractions are driving infractions and not criminal convictions and as such they will not appear on your criminal record.

Contact the law office of Kostman & Pyzer, Barristers, to protect your rights

2 Jun 2009

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