Ontario DUI Charges

Dui charges

Remember Drinking and Driving? New Rules Won’t Let You Forget

The federal government has been hard at work strengthening the rules around drunk driving, and is set to roll out some new tools on that front in an apparent follow-up to cannabis legalization, as if telling Canadians, “No, that’s still not OK either.”

  1. Canada DUI Penalties
  2. Ontario DUI Penalties
    1. Roadside Penalties
    2. If You’re Convicted
  3. Drunk driving is not just in your blood
  4. New drivers and young drivers
  5. New DUI penalties

Here’s a look at the rules for driving under the influence of plain old alcohol in the province of Ontario, as of December 18, 2018:

1. Federal DUI Penalties

If you recognize the penalties in this section, it may be because the penalties for driving under the influence of cannabis were harmonized with existing drunk driving laws and many of the penalties are the same. Regardless, they bear repeating:

Canadian DUI Penalties
Alcohol per 100 ml of blood Min Penalty Max Penalty
1st offence 80-119 mg $1,000 fine 10 yrs prison
120-159 mg $1,500 fine 10 yrs prison
160+ mg $2,000 fine 10 yrs prison
2nd offence 80+ mg 30 days jail 10 yrs prison
3rd offence 80+ mg 120 days jail 10 yrs prison
Causing harm Same as above 14 yrs prison
Causing death Same as above Life in prison

And if you thought you could get away with drinking just a little beer, smoking just a little weed, then driving, federal law now has a combination limit that can hit you with similar penalties to those above if you have both cannabis and alcohol in your blood.

2. Ontario DUI Penalties

In addition to federal penalties under the Criminal Code, provinces also have penalties for drinking and driving. Here are the penalties that apply to drivers in Ontario as of January 2019. Again, these penalties are harmonized with those created for driving under the influence of cannabis.

A) Roadside Penalties

The following penalties apply on the spot, without a conviction, and cannot be appealed:

Ontario Roadside DUI Penalties
Alcohol per 100 ml of blood Penalty
50 mg 1st offence
  • 3-day license suspension
  • $250 fine
2nd offence
  • 7-day license suspension
  • $350 fine
  • $350 education program
3rd offence
  • 30-day license suspension
  • Treatment program
  • 6-month ignition interlock
  • $450 fine
  • Mandatory medical exam
80+ mg (on the spot, without a conviction 1st offence
  • 90-day licence suspension
  • 7-day vehicle impoundment
  • $550 fine (begins Jan 2019)
  • $198 licence reinstatement fee
2nd offence
  • 90-day licence suspension
  • 7-day vehicle impoundment
  • $550 fine (begins Jan 2019)
  • $198 licence reinstatement fee
  • Mandatory education or treatment program
3rd offence
  • 90-day licence suspension
  • 7-day vehicle impoundment
  • $550 fine (begins Jan 2019)
  • $198 licence reinstatement fee
  • Mandatory education or treatment program
  • 6-month ignition interlock when license reinstated

B) If You Are Convicted

If you are convicted of driving with more than 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, the following penalties apply (in addition to federal penalties):

Ontario DUI Conviction Penalties
Alcohol per 100 ml of blood Penalty
80+ mg 1st offence
  • Minimum 1-year licence suspension
  • Mandatory 1-year ignition interlock when license reinstated
  • Mandatory education or treatment program
  • Mandatory medical evaluation
2nd offence
  • Minimum 3-year licence suspension
  • Mandatory 3-year ignition interlock when license reinstated
  • Mandatory education or treatment program
  • Mandatory medical evaluation
3rd offence
  • 10-year to lifetime licence suspension
  • Mandatory 6-year ignition interlock if license reinstated
  • Mandatory education or treatment program
  • Mandatory medical evaluation

3. Drunk Driving is Not Just in Your Blood

The penalties above are based on failing a blood test. But refusing to take a blood test, or a sobriety test, or a breathalyzer, are all subject to similar penalties. Nice try.

4. New Drivers and Young Drivers

Drivers who are 21 or younger, on a learner’s permit or driving a commercial vehicle are subject to zero tolerance, meaning that the above penalties may apply even if a trace amount of alcohol is found in their system.

5. New DUI Penalties

As of December 18, 2018, the federal penalties above come into effect, raising the maximum sentence for a simple drunk driving conviction (not causing harm or death) from 5 years in prison to 10. At the same time, federal law will make it more difficult for drunk drivers to avoid getting caught, and getting convicted, thanks to the following new rules:

  • Police can now ask you to take a breathalyzer without needing a reason to suspect you are drunk.
  • The legal limits for blood alcohol now apply within two hours of driving, eliminating a loophole some drunk drivers use to get off.
  • You can no longer defend yourself by saying you drank between when you drove and when you were tested (which seems like a pretty crazy defence, but it’s been used…)
  • Rules are also being clarified about what information the prosecution has to give the defence in a drunk driving case. More loopholes, closed.

Ontario rules have not changed much, but the roadside fines all increase as of January 2019.

The moral of the story? Take a cab, take an Uber, take the subway, but don’t drive drunk. It will cost you.


Disclaimer: The information above is for general purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Be sure to check with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the Government of Canada for up to date information on the use of alcohol while driving.



One Comment

  1. Nick-Reply
    November 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    That is really useful info… thanks! Good to see the federal penalties are increasing including mandatory jail time for 2nd offence! Steep but will hopefully make a difference.

    Perhaps most interesting is that Police have rights to breathalyze without suspicion. For me, this could make the biggest difference and I think they should automatically breathalyze in any stop. For example, if caught speeding, you should automatically be breathalyzed… this will make people recognize there’s a much greater chance of getting caught.

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