An Ontario driver’s licence is a privilege, not a right. The penalties for abusing this privilege can be severe and long-lasting, particularly with respect to the financial implications that follow a conviction. I’m not referring to minimum $1,000 fine that carries with a conviction for impaired driving or over 80, although that is a significant financial penalty for many people. When you understand the implications that come with a conviction for impaired driving, over 80, or refusing to provide a sample, you’ll wonder why anyone would ever consider drinking and driving.
One of the more obvious financial expenses resulting from a conviction for impaired driving or over 80 is the increase cost associated with being insured. If and when you do get your licence back, you can expect that the cost for car insurance will be at least double or triple what you were paying prior to being convicted. As someone who not only practices criminal law here in Toronto but also lives in the city, I know all too well that it is expensive to be insured, even with a clean driver record.
If your employment requires that you drive a motor vehicle or if you need a motor vehicle to get to and from work, you may be putting your current employment in jeopardy. If you are charged with either impaired driving or over 80, your licence is automatically suspended for a period of 30 days. If your current job requires that you drive a vehicle, imagine trying to explain to your employer that you will not be able to work for the next month. If that’s not bad enough, try to imagine telling your employer you may not be able to work for the next year, because a conviction for impaired driving or over 80 carries a penalty of a 1-year driver’s licence suspension for a first offence. A second offence within a 10-year period of a first offence carries a penalty of a 3-year licence suspension, while a third offence results can result in a lifetime licence suspension.
The implications resulting from a conviction of impaired driving can be severe, even for a first time offence. It is for this reason that the Ontario Government introduced Ontario’s Ignition Interlock program in 2010. If you meet the requirements to qualify for the Interlock program, you may be eligible to have your licence reinstated as early as 3 months after your conviction date. However, that’s only if you enter a guilty plea within 90 days of being charged with drinking and driving. If you fail to enter a plea in that timeframe you are only eligible to have your licence reinstated 6 months after your date of conviction. Although this 90-day period creates circumstances where a person may feel pressured to enter a guilty plea, there is an added benefit to entering a guilty plea at an early date. Upon being charged with impaired driving, over 80 or refusing to provide a sample, your licence is automatically suspended for 30 days. If you enter a guilty plea during this 30-day period, you begin serving your sentence concurrently with the 30-day suspension. If you have been charged with impaired driving, over 80 or failing to provide a breathe sample, do not delay, contact me as soon as possible so that I can review your case.
If you do qualify for the Ignition Interlock program, the financial consequences of getting your licence back are again severe. First, you must take the Back on Track program which is intended to educate people on the dangers of drinking and driving. The Back on Track program costs approximately $600 and you should register for the program immediately after receiving a conviction for either impaired driving or over 80 as the program can take several months to complete. The program has two main components, the educational part which is 8 hours in length, and the treatment part which is 16 hours long. You should also be aware that the program is only available for alcohol related offences. Where a person is convicted of impaired driving involving drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs, that person will not be qualify for the program.
Installing the Interlock device creates an additional expense, as you can probably expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $150 to have the device installed in your car. In addition, you have to pay a monthly fee to rent the Interlock device, which can also be between $100 and $200 a month. Don’t forget the fee to have the device removed from your vehicle once you are no longer required to drive with the device. The is also the personal inconvenience of driving with the device installed in your car, or better yet, the inconvenience of anyone else having to drive your car. The machine will also periodically require that you blow into device, which can become rather inconvenient when you are driving longer distances or if you are on a major highway and have to pull over.
When you add up all the expenses, drinking and driving can be a costly decision, particularly for the otherwise law abiding citizen who unfortunately exercises poor judgement. In addition to these expenses, there is the further expense a person will incur by hiring a criminal lawyer. Notwithstanding that hiring a lawyer can be a considerable expense, a competent lawyer is essential to ensuring you receive the best possible result and get your licence back as soon as possible.
Given the significant personal and financial implications that are associated with a conviction resulting from drinking and driving, it makes you think whether consequences of a conviction for impaired driving create circumstances where a punishment is too harsh. For example, take the scenario of the average parent of two children, who earns an average income, has never had any contact with the law, and is charged with impaired driving after attending a social or work related event. The implications of a conviction for impaired driving will certainly impact not only that individual, but the family as a whole. However, drinking and driving threatens the lives of all other motorist on the road, and this is a danger that cannot be overlooked. So although the personal and financial consequences may seem to be particular harsh for some offenders, even one life lost to drinking and driving reminds us that these offences cannot be treated lightly.
If you are charged with impaired driving, over 80, or failing to provide a breathe sample, you should seriously consider contacting a lawyer today.