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Penalties for repeat impaired driving offences

Region: Ontario Answer # 7710

What is impaired driving?

Under section 320.14 of the Criminal Code, impaired driving means operating a vehicle while:

  • having consumed alcohol or drugs, or a combination of the two,
  • your ability was affected to any degree by alcohol or drugs.

Any motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment (referred to as conveyances in the Code), can lead to charges if operated while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two.

For more information on specific impaired driving offences under the Criminal Code, refer to 7700 Overview of impaired driving laws in Canada.

What are repeat impaired driving offences?

Repeat impaired driving offences occur when an individual has been convicted of impaired driving more than once. These individuals are seen as posing an increased risk to public safety and, as such, the legal consequences they face are typically more severe than for those convicted of a first offence. If you have been charged with a criminal driving offence such as impaired driving, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

Penalties for repeat impaired driving offences

Impaired driving is a serious criminal offence, carrying significant penalties. The exact penalties can vary greatly based on a variety of factors, including the individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the arrest, the presence of any aggravating factors, such as if the accident caused property damage, bodily harm or death, or having a minor in the vehicle during the offence. The presence of such factors, when combined with a history of repeat offences, can result in significantly more severe penalties. These can include higher fines, mandatory jail sentences, longer periods of license suspension, mandatory educational programs or treatment procedures, and mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices.

It is important to note that if convicted of impaired driving, there are penalties under both the federal Criminal Code and the provincial Highway Traffic Act. View 7709 Penalties for impaired driving offences for more information.

Fines and jail time

The minimum penalties if convicted of repeat impaired driving offences under section 320.14 of the Criminal Code are:

  • for a second offence imprisonment for a term of 30 days,
  • for each subsequent offence, imprisonment for a term of 120 days.

If convicted of an indictable (more serious) offence imprisonment could be for up-to 10 years. If convicted of a summary (less serious) offence punishment could include a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day, or both.

Role of prior convictions in court proceedings

In the courtroom, a defendant’s prior convictions play a significant role in shaping both the prosecution’s case and the court’s judgement. Prosecutors will often highlight the defendant’s past convictions to emphasize a pattern of reckless behaviour, potentially swaying the court to impose stricter penalties. Judges consider these past offences as an indication that previous penalties were not sufficient deterrents, therefore there may be a need for harsher sentences.

Challenges in legal defence

Defending a client with multiple impaired driving convictions presents unique challenges. Prior offences limit the effectiveness of certain defence strategies and can undermine attempts to portray the incident as a one-time mistake. Experienced lawyers often need to employ a multifaceted defence strategy, which may involve questioning the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the tests administered, or presenting evidence of the defendant’s proactive steps towards rehabilitation.

Education programs for repeat offenders

Impaired driving education programs are designed to provide individuals with a comprehensive understanding of the dangers and consequences of impaired driving. For repeat offenders, these programs are particularly critical, as they offer insights into the factors contributing to reoffending and provide strategies to avoid future offences. They also focus on the harmful effects of substance misuse.

Rehabilitation and support programs

Rehabilitation and support programs play a crucial role towards recovery and prevention of future offences. These programs offer therapeutic interventions, peer support, and professional counselling designed to address underlying issues often associated with substance misuse and impaired driving. They provide a safe, supportive space to explore personal challenges, understand destructive behaviors, and develop healthier coping strategies.

What are the long-term implications of multiple impaired driving convictions?

Multiple impaired driving convictions can drastically affect an individual’s life. Along with the impact that multiple convictions can have on an individual’s private life, having multiple convictions on one’s record can seriously impede employment, housing and travel opportunities.

A record that includes multiple impaired driving convictions can impact a judges’ rulings in other cases, such as child custody battles or civil lawsuits. Furthermore, in any subsequent impaired driving case, the offender will likely face even harsher penalties due to their established pattern of repeated offences.

Get help

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a driving offence, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our preferred criminal defence expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation at 416-938-5858 .


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