What are the penalties for a drinking and driving charge?
Before you plead guilty to any drinking and driving offence, be sure that you know what the penalties are that you will be facing. All drinking and driving related offences (over 80 mg, impaired driving, failure to supply breath sample) are criminal offences and you will receive a criminal record if you plead guilty or are found guilty of your drinking and driving offence. You could also be facing high fines, licence suspensions, insurance premium increases or cancellation, and possible jail time. For full details on the penalties you could be facing, please visit our DUI Penalties page.
If I plead guilty to the offence right away, will there be any advantages over pleading not guilty?
When you enter a plea of guilty to any offence, you are accepting the penalties that are associated to that offence. For any DUI offence this means you will be facing all of the penalties associated with drinking and driving including, but not limited to a criminal record, possible jail time, attendance of the Back on Track program, Ignition Interlock program, and high fine amounts. The fine amount may be able to be negotiated on with an initial plea of guilt, but looking at everything you could be facing if found guilty, the fine amount is likely the least of your worries. The only way to know for sure what the best course of action should be for your specific case is to consult with a professional.
Is failing to provide a breath sample a criminal offence also?
Yes. If you refuse or fail to provide a breath sample when requested by a police officer, you can be charged with failure to supply breath sample which is a criminal offence and would face the same penalties as any other drinking and driving related offence.
Why is my insurance company refusing to pay for the damages to my car from an accident while I was drinking and driving?
If you were in an accident as a result of drinking and driving, it is likely that your insurance company will deny any claim made and not cover any of the costs involved in fixing or replacing your vehicle. Any damage to the third party vehicle involved will be covered by the insurance company, but they have the right to sue you for this amount paid out to the third party if you are found guilty of the drinking and driving offence. Further information can be found on our DUI Insurance Implications page.
I blew over the legal limit. This means I am guilty, right?
Not necessarily. The breathalyzer results are only a small portion of the evidence that can be used against you in court and this evidence is required to be properly completed by the officer(s) and fulfill many conditions. Since a breathalyzer is a mechanical device, it is also subject to specific testing procedures which need to be proved that were completed properly. There are many defences to a drinking and driving charge that only a professional that focuses on impaired driving cases would even think about looking into. Just because a case seems hopeless to you does not mean that it is hopeless. Before you plead guilty, be sure to speak to a professional for legal advice!
I don’t think I was impaired at all, but I still got an over 80 charge. Why did they charge me with this?
Over 80 mg and impaired driving are two separate charges but are both criminal offences. Just because you were charged with blowing over 80 mg does not mean that you were impaired. Impaired driving is given out when the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired due to the use of drugs or alcohol. Driving over 80 mg does not mean that you were impaired, but that your blood verses alcohol concentration was more than 80 mg, which is the legal limit that has been set out in Ontario. Even if you feel like you are fine to drive, If you are over 80 mg you will be charge with a criminal offence.
I received a licence suspension for being 0.06 over the limit. Is this an impaired charge?
No. As of May 1st 2009, new laws were enacted in Ontario in an attempt to reduce the number of drinking and driving related offences. If you are pulled over and provide a breath sample with a blood alcohol reading between 0.05 - 0.08, you will NOT be charged with a drinking and driving offence, but will receive an immediate, roadside licence suspension for 3 - 30 days. While this warning range charge is not a criminal offence, there are still some harsh penalties if you are found guilty. There are further details on our Warning Range 0.05 - 0.08 page.
I have been charged with impaired and my licence suspended for 90 days, but haven’t been convicted yet. Is there any way to get my licence back while I wait for my trial?
No. The minimum 90 day roadside suspension is mandatory when you are charged with any drinking and driving related offence in Ontario. This suspension is in addition to any other penalties and suspension you could be facing once found guilty of the DUI offence.
The 90 day suspension cannot be appealed or shortened and you must not drive for the duration of the suspension or else you could face additional charges and suspensions. Once the 90 day time period is completed, you are able to go to the Ministry of Transportation to apply to get your licence back and will be required to pay a reinstatement fee of $150.
Is there any way to avoid a criminal record if I am found guilty of a drinking and driving offence?
All drinking and driving related offences are criminal offences. This means that if you are found guilty of any drinking and driving ticket, you will receive a criminal record. The only way to avoid this is to not be charged with a drinking and driving related offence or having the DUI offence reduced to a non-criminal offence such as a Highway Traffic Act ticket. The best way to go about doing this is to plead not guilty to your drinking and driving offence and hire experienced representation to give you the needed legal advice and to build a solid defence on your behalf.
More information on impaired driving:
- Impaired Driving Home Page
- Warning Range 0.05 - 0.08
- Insurance Implications
- Public Awareness