What Are the DUI Fines in Ontario?

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A DUI is one of the most serious traffic offences that someone can be charged with. And they are often quite expensive, as well. Many of the involved costs are direct, such as fines and increased insurance premiums, but there are other expenses to consider. Having a DUI on your record could limit your job options, even if the job in question doesn’t involve driving; many employers automatically turn down applicants with a criminal record. And then there’s the risk of serious injury or death, your own and every person with whom you share the road. Suffice it to say, it’s simply not worth it to drive while intoxicated. 

That being said, if you do find yourself facing a DUI charge in Ontario, an experienced DUI lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, your lawyer may be able to negotiate for a more lenient sentence, or even an outright dismissal of charges. If you have an old DUI conviction and are looking for a fresh start, a lawyer may be able to get the record sealed or expunged. Don’t wait to seek legal advice. A DUI is a criminal offence and a lawyer can effectively mitigate some of its impact on your life. 

What Is a DUI?

DUI (driving under the influence) is the criminal charge faced by someone who is caught driving while under the influence of an illegal amount of alcohol.

Alcohol-impaired driving looks different from person to person. Whether or not you are above the legal limit depends on multiple factors, including the amount of alcohol you consumed, your age, sex, and other biological factors. Police have several methods of determining whether or not a driver is impaired, from simple field sobriety tests such as having the person walk in a straight line, to more specific blood and breath tests. They may charge you after administering only one of these tests, or any combination thereof.

The most well-known method of measuring intoxication levels is the breathalyzer test, which uses your breath to measure how much alcohol is in your blood, known as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Canada’s federal government sets the BAC limit at 0.08 percent or higher. Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) also sets a “warn range” of 0.05 – 0.08 percent, which carries lighter but still serious penalties.

What are the Penalties for the “Warn Range?”

If you submit to a breathalyzer test in Ontario and your BAC registers within the warn range, you’ll need to immediately adhere to the following restrictions:

  • First offence: A three day licence suspension and $250 fine;

  • Second offence*: A seven day licence suspension and $350 fine;

  • Third and susequent offences*: A 30 day licence suspension and $450 fine.

         (*Within five years of the last offence). 

It should be noted that the warn range does not result in a DUI charge or conviction, and will not appear on your criminal record. 

What Are the Penalties for a DUI Charge?

You do not have to be convicted of a DUI to face penalties for alcohol-impaired driving. If an officer charges you with a DUI, you will face immediate penalties at the time of arrest, and additional penalties if you are later convicted.

If your BAC registers at 0.08 percent or higher, or you refuse to submit to a sobriety test, you will immediately face the following penalties:

  • A 90 day licence suspension

  • Vehicle impounded for one week

  • $550 fine

If the second and third (or subsequent) offences occurred within 10 years of the last offence, you may also face additional penalties. These include mandatory treatment programs and temporarily installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle.

What Are the Consequences of a DUI Conviction?

As with the immediate penalties listed above, the consequences of a conviction become more severe with each repeat offence. Ontario follows federal guidelines for alcohol-impaired driving fines and jail time, outlined below:

  • First offence: Mandatory minimum $1000 fine, maximum 10 years jail time;

  • Second offence*: Mandatory minimum 30 days jail time, maximum 10 years;

  • Third offence*: Mandatory minimum 120 days jail time, maximum 10 years;

(*Within 10 years of the last offence)

Ontario imposes additional penalties specific to the province, including license suspension of a one year minimum and a lifetime maximum. Each time your licence is suspended, you must pay a $281 reinstatement fee. 

A Spike in Auto Insurance Premiums

Besides legal consequences, DUIs can also have a serious impact on your employability, your ease of getting around, and of course, your auto insurance premium. A DUI conviction can increase your premium by four or five times in Ontario. What’s more, you’ll pay that premium for up to 10 years following your DUI conviction. Your insurer may even drop your policy entirely. If this happens, you might need to consider a high-risk auto insurance from the Facility Association, an organization that works with private insurers in Ontario to get high-risk drivers insured. It will be costly, but it’s preferable to driving uninsured. 

If you are unsure how to get car insurance after a DUI conviction in Ontario, speak with a local DUI attorney today. They can review your options and may be able to negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf. 

DUIs and Young and Novice Drivers

In addition to the consequences above, Ontario has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving for those younger than 22. These “young and novice drivers” must have a 0.00 percent BAC when driving, even if they are of legal drinking age. If they violate this law, they may be charged with a DUI. The penalties for a young and novice DUI charge are the same as warn range penalties, but they usually do include a court date and could also result in a DUI conviction. 

A young driver may also need to pay an additional fine, between $60 and $500, depending on the circumstances.

Can A DUI Lawyer Help?

As you can see, Ontario takes impaired driving extremely seriously. The best way to avoid a DUI charge or conviction is to avoid drinking after any amount of alcohol. But mistakes happen, if you have been charged with a DUI in Ontario, contact an experienced DUI lawyer, like Alan Pearse, right away.

January 12, 2021 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized