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Penalties for criminal driving offences

Region: Ontario Answer # 776

Penalties under the Criminal Code

  1. Impaired driving offences, section 320.14 (1)

Drug impaired driving offences: It is important to note that convictions for drug impaired driving offences carry the same penalties as alcohol impaired offences.

If convicted of an impaired driving offence, the minimum penalties are:

  • for a first offence, a fine of $1,000,
  • for a second offence, imprisonment for a term of 30 days, and
  • for each subsequent offence, imprisonment for a term of 120 days.

These impaired offences are hybrid offences, and if convicted the driver may also face:

  • a jail term of not more than two years less a day if the offence is punishable on summary conviction (less serious), or
  • imprisonment for a term of up-to 10 years, if the Crown prosecutor decides to proceed by indictment (more serious).

It is important to note that minimum fines for a first offence, where there is a high blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) increase to:

  • $1,500 for a BAC of 120 mg but less than 160 mg, and
  • $2,000 for a BAC of 160 mg and above.

Mandatory licence suspension:

  • first offence: minimum 1-3 year licence suspension
  • second offence: minimum 2-10 year licence suspension
  • third or subsequent offence: 3 year-lifetime licence suspension

Ignition Interlock condition

Along with fines, licence suspensions, or jail time, the Court may also order impaired drivers to enroll in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program, as well as the Ignition Interlock Program. The Criminal Code allows each province to implement and administer its own Ignition Interlock Program.

In the Ignition Interlock Program, drivers must blow into an in-car alcohol breath-screening device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a pre-set limit of .02 (i.e. 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood). The device is located inside the vehicle, near the driver’s seat, and is connected to the engine’s ignition system.

Drivers will be subject to the Ignition Interlock Program in Ontario if they are:

  • convicted of an impaired driving offence under the Criminal Code
  • suspended three or more times in a ten-year period for a combination of:
    • registering a blood alcohol level  (BAC) of 0.05 to 0.08;
    • driving with a BAC above zero when you are 21 or younger;
    • driving with a BAC above zero when you are a novice driver;
    • failing or refusing to submit to an alcohol or drug test; and
    • driving while impaired by drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

If convicted under the Criminal Code, first-time offenders will have an ignition interlock condition placed on their Ontario’s driver’s licence for a minimum of one year, and second-time offenders for a minimum of three years. Third-time offenders will have the condition on their licence indefinitely if the licence is reinstated after a minimum 10-year suspension. The program does not apply to fourth-time offenders, as their licence will never be reinstated.

For more information on the Ignition Interlock Program, visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website.

  1. Failure or refusal to comply with demand, section 320.15 (1)

If convicted with failure or refusal to comply (with a request for a bodily fluid sample or to perform a sobriety test), the minimum penalties are:

  • for a first offence, a fine of $2,000, s. 320.19 (4)
  • for a second offence, imprisonment for a term of 30 days, and
  • for each subsequent offence, imprisonment for a term of 120 days.

It is a hybrid offence, and if convicted the driver may also face:

  • a jail term of not more than two years less a day if the offence is punishable on summary conviction (less serious), or
  • imprisonment for a term of up-to 10 years, if the Crown prosecutor decides to proceed by indictment (more serious).

Mandatory licence suspension:

  • first offence: minimum 1-3 year licence suspension
  • second offence: minimum 2-10 year licence suspension
  • third or subsequent offence: 3 year-lifetime licence suspension
  1. Drive while licence suspended, section 320.18 (1)

If you are convicted of driving while your licence is suspended, called operation while prohibited (a hybrid offence), you may face the following penalties:

  • a jail term of not more than two years less a day if the offence is punishable on summary conviction (less serious), or
  • imprisonment for a term of up-to 10 years, if the Crown prosecutor decides to proceed by indictment (more serious).

Licence suspension: In addition to any other punishment, the Court may extend the licence suspension time-period.

Ignition interlock device program exception: Anyone who is registered in the program, and who is complying with the conditions of the program, is allowed to drive while their licence is suspended.

  1. Failure to stop after accident, section 320.16, etc.

Failing to stop after an accident is a hybrid offence. If convicted:

  • summarily (less serious) the maximum punishment is imprisonment for up-to two years less a day.;
  • by indictment the maximum punishment is imprisonment up-to ten years.

If the accident resulted in bodily harm, the minimum penalties are:

  • for a first offence, a fine of $1,000, and
  • jail term for a second offence and subsequent offences.

If the accident resulted in someone’s death, the minimum penalties are

  • for a first offence, a fine of $1,000, and
  • jail term for a second offence and subsequent offences, up-to life imprisonment.

Licence suspension: In addition to any other punishment, the Court may, order a licence suspension.

  1. Dangerous driving, section 320.13

Dangerous driving is a hybrid offence. If convicted:

  • on summary conviction, the maximum jail time is up-to two years less a day,
  • on indictment (more serious), the driver could face imprisonment up-to 10 years.

Dangerous driving that causes bodily harm: If you are convicted, the minimum penalty is:

  • for a first offence, a fine of $1,000,
  • for a second offence, imprisonment for a term of 30 days, and
  • for each subsequent offence, imprisonment for a term of 120 days.

This is a hybrid offence, and if convicted, the driver may also face:

  • a jail term of not more than two years less a day if the offence is punishable on summary conviction (less serious), or
  • imprisonment for a term of up-to 14 years, if the Crown prosecutor decides to proceed by indictment (more serious)

Dangerous driving that causes the death: If convicted, the minimum penalties are the same as for dangerous driving causing bodily harm, but the maximum jail term is for life. It is a strictly indictable offence.

Licence suspension: In addition to any other punishment for a dangerous driving offence, the Court may, order a licence suspension.

 

  1. Criminal negligence, section 219 (1)

The offence of causing bodily harm by criminal negligence is an indictable offence, punishable by a maximum jail term of up-to 10 years. If someone is killed, then the maximum punishment is life imprisonment.

Penalties under the Highway Traffic Act

Licence suspension: If you are convicted of a Criminal Code driving offence, your licence will be suspended under the rules of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. You will receive:

  • a one-year licence suspension for the first time you are convicted, and
  • for subsequent convictions, the length of time increases substantially, up-to a lifetime ban.

Convictions for driving offences under the Criminal Code will remain on your driver’s record for a minimum of 10 years.

Depending on the circumstances and severity of the offence, a driver convicted of a criminal driving charge may face addiitional penalties under provincial law, including:

  • additional fines,
  • penalties,
  • requirement to participate in programs, and
  • imprisonment.

Automobile insurance

If you were in an automobile accident, which resulted in you being convicted of a criminal driving offence:

  • your automobile insurance policy will probably not cover damage to your vehicle,
  • you may not be eligible to receive certain other benefits, such as income replacement benefits, and
  • you may be personally liable for damages and injuries suffered by the other party involved in the accident.

Criminal record

If you were ever charged with a criminal offence (photographed and fingerprinted), regardless of the outcome at court (conviction, discharge, withdrawn, acquitted, dismissed) you will have some type of criminal record on file.

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1- 866-362-7143 or learn more at Federal Pardon Waiver Services. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, and need to hire a criminal defence lawyer, contact our preferred experts:

The Criminal Law Team

Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers


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