Impaired Driving Defence Lawyer in London

 

Impaired Driving

Every year thousands of people find themselves charged with drinking and driving offences.

It is also an offence to drive while impaired by a drug, including marijuana and prescription medicines.

The law in this area is extremely complex.  James Zegers successfully defends drivers facing impaired driving offences and can help you keep your licence.

Defending drinking and driving offences requires a careful review of the facts and a thorough knowledge of the law.  Issues that arise include the timing of the breath tests and the constitutionality of the initial police stop.  Too often people plead guilty to a drinking and driving offence without carefully considering all possible defences.

With over twenty years of experience, James Zegers can help you keep your license and your livelihood.

If you have been charged with a drinking and driving offence, call James Zegers at 519-673-0440 for an initial consultation.

 

Driving While Suspended

The courts take a dim view of people who are convicted of driving while suspended. Even first offenders can face a jail sentence.

If you are charged with driving while suspended you need a lawyer who can explain to the court why jail is not an appropriate sentence for you.

If you have been charged with driving while suspended, call James Zegers at 519-673-0440 for an initial consultation.

 

Highway Traffic Act

Offences such as speeding or careless driving fall under the Highway Traffic Act.  While not criminal offences, convictions for Highway Traffic Act offences can result in fines, increased insurance premiums, and in exceptional cases, jail.

James Zegers paralegal staff can be relied upon to provide economical solutions for clients facing Highway Traffic Act charges.  Charges of speeding and careless driving are often reduced to lesser offences.

If you have been charged with a Highway Traffic Act offence, call James Zegers at 519-673-0440 for an initial consultation.

FAQs about DUI & Motor Vehicle

  • What is the penalty for careless driving in Ontario?

    Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. A person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.

    While not a criminal offence, careless driving is one of the more serious Highway Traffic Act Offences. On conviction for careless driving, a person is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both. In addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.

    The penalties for careless driving causing bodily harm or death are understandably more severe. On conviction for careless driving causing bodily harm or death, a person is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both. In addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years.

    A court that imposes a sentence for careless driving causing bodily harm or death shall consider as an aggravating factor evidence that bodily harm or death was caused to a person who, in the circumstances of the offence, was vulnerable to a lack of due care and attention or reasonable consideration by a driver, including by virtue of the fact that the person was a pedestrian or cyclist.

  • How to fight DUI charges in Ontario?

    Impaired driving law is in a constant state of change. Canada’s impaired-driving law changed in December to allow mandatory alcohol screening, which lets police demand a breath sample during any traffic stop. Before the change, police couldn’t demand a breath sample without establishing a reasonable suspicion – say, the smell of alcohol, slurred speech from the driver or weaving in the road – that you were impaired. Under the old rules, when the case went to court, the officer would have to explain why he suspected that you might have been drinking. This new law will no doubt face constitutional challenges. Mandatory alcohol screening is clearly a breach of the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The question is whether the courts will find this to be a reasonable limit on our rights and freedoms.

    The changes to the law of drinking and driving also make it illegal to have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or over .08 within two hours of driving. The change is meant to prevent to prevent drunk drivers from leaving a crash scene before police get there and going to get a drink so they can argue that they got drunk after the crash, but weren’t drunk before it. With this change the onus is on the accused to prove that he or she was not driving within two hours of testing positive for over 80, an onus which runs contrary to the presumption of innocence and the principles of fundamental justice as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • Do you lose your licence immediately after a DUI?

    Immediately upon being charged with impaired driving or over 80, a driver is subjected to a 90 day license suspension, regardless of whether or not he or she is guilty of a criminal offence. It seems a rather clear breach of the accused’s right to be presumed innocent, but the courts have characterized the suspension as administrative, rather than punitive. Regardless, it still seems like punishment.

  • What happens with your first DUI?

    A first time DUI offender faces a minimum fine of $1,000 and a driving prohibition for one year. However, a first time offender can qualify for the Interlock Program if they enter a guilty plea within three months of being charged, reducing the suspension period to three months instead of a full year. In addition, to qualify the first time offender must pay the mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 in full and complete the Back on Track program.

    Impaired Driving 
    The Criminal Code prohibits driving while impaired to any degree by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. Penalties for this offence range from a mandatory minimum fine to life imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence

    Prohibited Levels 
    In addition to the offence of impaired driving, there are separate offences of having specified prohibited levels of alcohol, cannabis or certain other drugs in the blood within two hours of driving. Penalties range from fines to life imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence.

    Alcohol 
    The prohibited blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 80 milligrams or more (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood.

    Cannabis (THC) 
    There are two prohibited levels for THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis: it is a less serious offence to have between 2 nanograms (ng) and 5 ng of THC per ml of blood. It is a more serious offence to have 5 ng of THC or more per ml of blood.

    Combination of alcohol and cannabis
    The prohibited levels of alcohol and cannabis, when found in combination, is 50mg or more of alcohol per 100ml blood and 2.5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood.

    Other drugs
    Having any detectable amount of LSD, psilocybin, psilocin (“magic mushrooms”), ketamine, PCP, cocaine, methamphetamine or 6-mam (a metabolite of heroin) in your system within two hours of driving is also prohibited.

    The prohibited level for GHB is 5mg or more per litre of blood, since the body can naturally produce low levels of this drug.

    Penalties 
    Impaired driving is a serious crime that poses a significant threat to public safety. Having the prohibited level of alcohol, THC, or other impairing drugs in your blood within two hours of driving is an offence.
    Penalties for committing this conduct can vary, depending on the alcohol or drug concentration, whether it is your first or a repeated offence, and whether you have caused bodily harm or death to another person.

  • Can you cross the border after getting a DUI?

    When you have a criminal record and want to cross the border into the United States, there is always a chance that you may be denied access. Even if you have received a record suspension here in Canada, US immigration officials can still decline to let you enter if they have refused you in the past. The nature of your crime or crimes is often the precipitating factor that will seal your fate at the border, but what about trying to cross with a DUI?

    If you have one DUI charge on your record, chances are you will be allowed to cross the border into the US without incident. It will show up to border officials as a DUI, and typically they don’t consider this type of charge as serious as others. If you have a single DUI plus other offences on your record, you are inadmissible for entry into the United States, even if the other convictions are relatively minor.

  • What are the immigration consequences of a DUI conviction?

    Bill C-46 has amended the Criminal Code and repealed the previous impaired driving offence provisions and created a series of new offences.  All of the new impaired driving offences carry a maximum punishment of at least 10 years in prison.  As a result, a conviction for any the new impaired driving offences will be considered “serious criminality” under s.36(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).  This has major implications for foreign nationals and permanent residents.

    What are the Implications for Permanent Residents, Refugee Claimants, and Foreign Nationals in Canada?

    By increasing the maximum penalties for the more minor impaired driving offences from 5 years to 10 years, Bill C-46 has changed these offences from “criminality simpliciter” under s.36(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to “serious criminality” under s.36(1) of the IRPA.  The implications are as follows:

    Permanent Resident charged with any impaired driving offence on or after December 18, 2018, if convicted:

    • Will be inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality and may face loss of permanent resident status and deportation proceedings, regardless of the sentence imposed; and
    • Will have no right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division where humanitarian and compassionate grounds can be considered, if a sentence of 6 months or longer is imposed.

    Convention Refugee/Protected Person charged with any impaired driving offence on or after December 18, 2018, if convicted:

    • Will be inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality and will not be eligible to be granted permanent residence status and may face deportation proceedings; and
    • Will have no right of appeal of any deportation to the Immigration Appeal Division where humanitarian and compassionate grounds can be considered, if a sentence of 6 months or longer is imposed.

    Refugee Claimant charged with any impaired driving offence on or after December 18, 2018, if convicted:

    • Will be inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality and may be subjected to the termination of their refugee claim proceedings and commencement of deportation proceedings

    A Foreign National (visitors, temporary work or study permit holders and those here with no status) charged with any impaired driving offence on or after December 18, 2018, if convicted:

    • Will be inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality, rather than criminality simpliciter, and be subject to more vigorously pursued deportation proceedings; and
    • Will face increased scrutiny when applying to overcome the inadmissibility with a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or a request on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

    The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that collateral immigration consequences are relevant considerations to both an informed guilty plea and at sentencing, in R v. Wong, 2018 SCC 25 and R v. Pham, 2013 SCC 15, respectively.

    For a non-citizen charged with a serious criminality offence under the new impaired driving provisions, the only way to avoid inadmissibility and the potential consequences described above is to avoid conviction.

    Given that the new provisions also remove the possibility of discharging the offender, which previously existed for persons in need of curative treatment, the only remaining options for avoiding conviction appear to be a finding of not guilty through trial, or the withdrawal or substitution of the charge for a lesser, non-serious criminality offence, such as an offence under the Highway Traffic Act.  Convictions for any provincial offence, such as those under the Highway Traffic Act, do not attract immigration consequences.

  • How to get a careless driving ticket dismissed in Ontario?

    There are a couple of ways to get a careless driving charge dismissed. The obvious way is to take the matter to trial and be found not guilty. In order to be found guilty of careless driving the prosecutor must establish that the accused was driving a vehicle or on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. A person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.

    Another way to deal with a careless driving charge is to plead guilty to a lesser offence for a lower fine and fewer demerit points.

  • How does careless driving differ from dangerous driving?

    Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. A person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.

    While not a criminal offence, careless driving is one of the more serious Highway Traffic Act Offences. On conviction for careless driving, a person is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both. In addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.

    The penalties for careless driving causing bodily harm or death are understandably more severe. On conviction for careless driving causing bodily harm or death, a person is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both. In addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years.

    Dangerous driving is a criminal offence. Dangerous driving is defined in the Criminal Code as driving in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances. Not very helpful, is it?

    The essential difference is one of degree and intent. Careless driving is more an offence of omission while dangerous driving usually requires a deliberate act. It is dangerous driving to purposely run someone down while driving a car. It is careless to strike to pedestrian as a result of inattention.

    That said, dangerous driving offences can often be reduced to careless driving charges, which while still a serious offence, is not a criminal offence.

  • Is impaired driving a criminal offence in Canada?

    Impaired driving and over 80 are criminal offences. Recent amendments to the Criminal Code have increased the penalties available for these offences.

    Bill C-46 has amended the Criminal Code and repealed the previous impaired driving offence provisions and created a series of new offences.  All of the new impaired driving offences carry a maximum punishment of at least 10 years in prison.

  • How long does impaired driving stay on your record in Ontario?

    A conviction for impaired driving will stay on your record forever. You can apply for a record suspension after 5 years.

    A record suspension allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated that they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.

    A record suspension removes a person’s criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. This means that a search of CPIC will not show that the individual has a criminal record or a record suspension. This helps them access employment and educational opportunities and to reintegrate into society.

    The Criminal Records Act (CRA) applies only to records kept by federal organizations, but most provincial and municipal criminal justice agencies also restrict access to their records once they are told that a record suspension has been ordered.

    Limits of a record suspension:

    A record suspension…

    • does not erase a convicted offence, but sets it aside;
    • does not guarantee entry or visa privileges to another country;
    • is flagged in CPIC for former sexual offenders. This is done so that should the individual apply to work or volunteer with a vulnerable sector group (e.g. with children, the elderly) a vulnerable sector check will identify that the individual was convicted of a sexual offence for which a record suspension was received.

    A record suspension (or pardon) can be revoked or cease to have effect if you are:

    • Convicted of a new indictable offence, or in some cases, a summary offence;
    • Found to no longer be of good conduct;
    • Found to have made a false or misleading statement, or hidden information when you applied;
    • Found to have been ineligible for a record suspension at the time the record suspension was ordered.
  • Distracted driving fines in Ontario: What you need to know

    What counts as distracted driving

    Ontario’s distracted driving laws apply to the use of hand-held communication/entertainment devices and certain display screens.

    While you are driving, including when you are stopped in traffic or at a red light, it is illegal to:

    • use a phone or other hand-held wireless communication device to text or dial – you can only touch a device to call 911 in an emergency
    • use a hand-held electronic entertainment device, such as a tablet or portable gaming console
    • view display screens unrelated to driving, such as watching a video
    • program a GPS device, except by voice commands

    You are allowed to use hands-free wireless communications devices with an earpiece, lapel button or Bluetooth. You can view GPS display screens as long as they are built into your vehicle’s dashboard or securely mounted on the dashboard.

    Other actions such as eating, drinking, grooming, smoking, reading and reaching for objects are not part of Ontario’s distracted driving law. However, you can still be charged with careless or dangerous driving.

    Penalties for distracted driving

    It’s against the law to use hand-held communication (e.g. your phone) and electronic entertainment devices (e.g. DVD player, e-reader) while driving. In fact, simply holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law.

    You can use:

    • a hands-free device (e.g. Bluetooth) but only to turn it on and off
    • a mounted device (e.g. phone, GPS) as long as it is secure  – not moving around while driving

    If convicted, the penalty you face depends on the kind of licence you hold and how long you’ve been driving.

    Drivers with A to G licences

    If you have an A, B, C, D, E, F, G and/or M licence, you’ll face bigger penalties when convicted of distracted driving:

    First conviction:

    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
      three demerit points
    • 3-day suspension

    Second conviction

    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • a fine of up to $2,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • six demerit points
    • 7-day suspension

    Third and any further conviction(s)

    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • a fine of up to $3,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • six demerit points
    • 30-day suspension

    Novice drivers 
    If you hold a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and are convicted of distracted driving, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points.

    Instead of demerit points you’ll face longer suspensions:

    • a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
    • a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
    • cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction
    • to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program

    Careless driving

    You could face more charges – for careless driving – if you endanger other people because of any kind of distraction. This includes distraction caused by both hand-held (e.g., phone) or hands-free (e.g., Bluetooth) devices.
    If convicted of careless driving, you may receive:

    • six demerit points
    • fines up to $2,000 and/or
    • a jail term of six months
    • a licence suspension of up to two years

    You could even be charged with dangerous driving – a criminal offence that carries heavier penalties, including jail terms of up to 10 years for causing bodily harm or up to 14 years for causing death.

  • How many demerit points for careless driving?

    A driver convicted of careless driving receives 6 demerit points.

    How demerit points work

    You don’t “lose” demerit points on your driving record. You start with zero points and gain points for being convicted of breaking certain traffic laws.

    Demerit points stay on your record for two years from the offence date. If you collect enough points, you can lose your driver’s licence.

    You can also get demerit points on your Ontario’s driver’s licence when you violate driving laws in:

    • other Canadian provinces and territories
    • the State of New York
    • the State of Michigan

    How demerit points are applied

    The number of points added to your driving record depends on the offence. Here are the number of points that will be recorded for certain violations.

    7 demerit points will be added if you are convicted of:

    • failing to remain at the scene of a collision
    • failing to stop when signaled or asked by a police officer

    6 demerit points will be added if you are convicted of:

    • careless driving
    • racing
    • exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/hour or more
    • failing to stop for a school bus

    5 demerit points will be added if you are convicted of:

    • failing to stop at an unprotected railway crossing (for bus drivers only)

    4 demerit points will be added if you are convicted of:

    • exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/hour
    • following too closely

    3 demerit points will be added if you are convicted of:

    • driving while holding or using a hand-held wireless communications or entertainment device
    • driving while viewing a display screen unrelated to the driving task
    • exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/hour
    • driving through, around or under a railway crossing barrier
    • driving the wrong way on a divided road
    • driving or operating a vehicle on a closed road
    • failing to yield the right-of-way
    • failing to obey a stop sign, traffic control stop/slow sign, traffic light or railway crossing signal
    • failing to obey the directions of a police officer
    • failing to report a collision to a police officer
    • failing to slow and carefully pass a stopped emergency vehicle or a tow truck with its amber lights flashing
    • failing to move, where possible, into another lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle or a tow truck with its amber lights flashing
    • improper passing
    • improper driving when road is divided into lanes
    • improper use of a high occupancy vehicle lane
    • going the wrong way on a one-way road
    • crossing a divided road where no proper crossing is provided
    • crowding the driver’s seat

    2 demerit points will be added if you are convicted of:

    • improper right turn
    • improper left turn
    • improper opening of a vehicle door
    • prohibited turns
    • towing people — on toboggans, bicycles, skis
    • unnecessary slow driving
    • backing on highway
    • failing to lower headlamp beams
    • failing to obey signs
    • failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing
    • failing to share the road
    • failing to signal
    • driver failing to wear a seat belt
    • driver failing to ensure infant/ child passenger is properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system or booster seat
    • driver failing to ensure that a passenger less than 23 kg is properly secured
    • driver failing to ensure that a passenger under 16 years is wearing a seat belt

    Penalties for demerit points

    The consequences for gaining demerit points depend on how many you have added to your driving record.

    As a driver with a full licence, if you have:

    2 to 8 points:
    You will be sent a warning letter.

    9 to 14 points:
    Your licence could be suspended. You may have to attend an interview to discuss your driving record. At this meeting, you will need to provide reasons why your licence should not be suspended.

    If you have to attend an interview, you will get a letter (Notice of Interview) to notify you of the time, date and location of the meeting. If you do not attend, your licence could be suspended.

    The fee for a demerit point interview is $50 and must be paid in person at any ServiceOntario Centre. You can pay the fee when you receive the Notice of Interview or within 10 business days of attending the interview. Failure to pay the interview fee will result in the cancellation of your driver’s licence.

    15+ points:
    Your licence will be suspended for 30 days.
    When your licence is suspended, you will get a letter from the Ministry of Transportation. It will tell you the date your suspension takes effect and that you need to surrender your licence.
    If you do not surrender your licence, you can lose your licence for up to two years.

    How do I surrender my licence?
    What happens if my licence is suspended?

    Penalties for demerit points: new drivers

    You are considered a novice – or new – driver if you have a G1, G2, M1, M2, M1-L or M2-L licence. As a new driver, you face different consequences for adding demerit points.

    As a new driver, if you have:

    2 to 5 points:
    You will be sent a warning letter.

    6 to 8 points:
    Your licence could be suspended. You may have to attend an interview to discuss your driving record. At this meeting, you will need to provide reasons why your licence should not be suspended.

    If you have to attend an interview, you will get a letter (Notice of Interview) to notify you of the time, date and location of the meeting. If you do not attend, your licence could be suspended.

    The fee for a demerit point interview is $50 and must be paid in person at any ServiceOntario Centre. You can pay the fee when you receive the Notice of Interview or within 10 business days of attending the interview. Failure to pay the interview fee will result in the cancellation of your driver’s licence.

    9 or more points:
    Your licence will be suspended for 60 days.

    When your licence is suspended, you will get a letter from the Ministry of Transportation. It will tell you the date your suspension takes effect and that you need to surrender your licence.

    If you do not surrender your licence, you can lose your licence for up to two years.

    Escalating Penalties
    If you are a novice driver and have committed an offence resulting in demerit points, you may also receive a licence suspension or cancellation under Ontario’s escalating penalties program.

  • What you need to know about careless driving in Ontario

    Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. A person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.

    While not a criminal offence, careless driving is one of the more serious Highway Traffic Act Offences. On conviction for careless driving, a person is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both. In addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.

    The penalties for careless driving causing bodily harm or death are understandably more severe. On conviction for careless driving causing bodily harm or death, a person is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both. In addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years.

    A court that imposes a sentence for careless driving causing bodily harm or death shall consider as an aggravating factor evidence that bodily harm or death was caused to a person who, in the circumstances of the offence, was vulnerable to a lack of due care and attention or reasonable consideration by a driver, including by virtue of the fact that the person was a pedestrian or cyclist.

    There are a couple of ways to get a careless driving charge dismissed. The obvious way is to take the matter to trial and be found not guilty. In order to be found guilty of careless driving the prosecutor must establish that the accused was driving a vehicle or on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. A person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.

    Another way to deal with a careless driving charge is to plead guilty to a lesser offence for a lower fine and fewer demerit points.

  • How do I fight a careless driving charge in Ontario?

    There are a couple of ways to get a careless driving charge dismissed. The obvious way is to take the matter to trial and be found not guilty. In order to be found guilty of careless driving the prosecutor must establish that the accused was driving a vehicle or on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. A person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.

    Another way to deal with a careless driving charge is to plead guilty to a lesser offence for a lower fine and fewer demerit points.

  • What are my rights when stopped at a R.I.D.E. program in Ontario?

    Canada’s impaired-driving law changed in December to allow  mandatory alcohol screening, which lets police demand a breath sample during any traffic stop. Before the change, police couldn’t demand a breath sample without establishing a reasonable suspicion – say, the smell of alcohol, slurred speech from the driver or weaving in the road – that you were impaired. Under the old rules, when the case went to court, the officer would have to explain why he suspected that you might have been drinking. This new law will no doubt face constitutional challenges. Mandatory alcohol screening is clearly a breach of the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The question is whether the courts will find this to be a reasonable limit on our rights and freedoms.

  • What determines if I go to jail for drunk driving?

    Prior convictions and seriousness of the offence determine the sentence for impaired driving. The minimum penalty for a first impaired conviction is $1,000 fine. The minimum penalty for a second and third conviction for impaired driving is 30 days imprisonment and 120 days imprisonment respectively. The maximum jail sentence for all impaired driving offences is 10 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for impaired driving causing bodily harm is 14 years, and the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death is life imprisonment.

  • What are the fines and penalties for distracted driving in Ontario?

    Penalties for distracted driving

    The easiest way to avoid penalties for distracted driving is to not use a hand-held device when you’re behind the wheel.
    It’s against the law to use hand-held communication (e.g. your phone) and electronic entertainment devices (e.g. DVD player, e-reader) while driving.
    In fact, simply holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law.

    You can use:

    • a hands-free device (e.g. Bluetooth) but only to turn it on and off
    • a mounted device (e.g. phone, GPS) as long as it is secure  – not moving around while driving

    If convicted, the penalty you face depends on the kind of licence you hold and how long you’ve been driving.

    Drivers with A to G licences

    If you have an A, B, C, D, E, F, G and/or M licence, you’ll face bigger penalties when convicted of distracted driving:

    First conviction:

    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • three demerit points
    • 3-day suspension

    Second conviction

    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • a fine of up to $2,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
      six demerit points
    • 7-day suspension

    Third and any further conviction(s)

    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
    • a fine of up to $3,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • six demerit points
    • 30-day suspension

    Novice drivers

    If you hold a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and are convicted of distracted driving, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points. Instead of demerit points you’ll face longer suspensions:

    • a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
    • a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
    • cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction
    • to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program

    Careless driving

    You could face more charges – for careless driving – if you endanger other people because of any kind of distraction. This includes distraction caused by both hand-held (e.g., phone) or hands-free (e.g., Bluetooth) devices.

    If convicted of careless driving, you may receive:

    • six demerit points
    • fines up to $2,000 and/or
    • a jail term of six months
    • a licence suspension of up to two years

    You could even be charged with dangerous driving – a criminal offence that carries heavier penalties, including jail terms of up to 10 years for causing bodily harm or up to 14 years for causing death.