This article summarizes various types of reduced driving prohibitions for drinking and driving cases and identifies the preconditions for qualifying in Toronto, Ontario. Those seeking legal information on defending a drinking and driving case in Toronto, Ontario can read: Defending Drinking and Driving and Impaired Driving Charges.
Until recently, anyone convicted of their first drinking and driving offence in Canada involving a motor vehicle faced a minimum of a 12 month driving prohibition, followed by 12 months of only driving with an ignition interlock device (a device which requires a driver to provide a breath sample before a car’s ignition can be started, as well as requiring random tests while the ignition is on).
However, recent amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada have created reductions in driving prohibitions for first time offenders in an effort to reduce the number of drinking and driving cases that go to trial as well as encourage the use of the ignition interlock device as a rehabilitative tool.
Anyone convicted of a drinking and driving offence including impaired operation of a motor vehicle (“impaired driving”), driving with a blood-alchol level over the legal limit (“over 80”) or failing/refusing to provide a breath sample will receive a minimum sentence of a criminal record and a minimum fine of $1000. The changes to the Criminal Code only affect whether or not a person is eligible to obtain their license without completing the traditional 12 month driving prohibition that used to accompany every drinking and driving conviction.
Driving Prohibition Reduction Categories
Reduced driving prohibtions fall into two categories: “Stream A” and “Stream B“.
In “Stream A”: the driving prohibition is reduced to three months (from 12) , followed by 9 months of using an Interlock device in their vehicle.
In “Stream B”: the driving prohibition is reduced to six months of no driving, followed by 12 months of using an Interlock device.
How to Qualify for Stream A or Stream B
Those persons found guilty before August 3, 2010 (either by trial or by guilty plea) are not eligible for either stream.
Those who either plead guilty between August 3, 2010 and November 1, 2010 or those who plead guilty after November 1, 2010, within 90 days of the offence date are eligible for Stream A subject to meeting the minimum qualifications and completing the necessary paperwork with the Ministry of Transportation.
Those who entered guilty pleas after November 1, 2010, outside of 90 days of the offence date and those who took their matters to trial after August 3, 2010 are eligible for Stream B subject to meeting the minimum qualifications and completing the necessary paperwork with the Ministry of Transportation.
Minimum qualification for either Stream A or Stream B
- The offence did not include impairment by drugs or impairment by a combination of drugs and alcohol.
- The accused person has entered into a lease agreement for an ignition interlock device.
- The accused person has completed a preliminary assessment with the Ministry of Transportation.
- Within the past 5 years, the accused person has not been convicted for driving while disqualified (Criminal Code, s. 259(4)).
- Within the past 10 years, the accused person has not been convicted for the following offences involving a motor vehicle:
- Criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm (Criminal Code, ss. 220, 221)
- Manslaughter (Criminal Code, s. 236)
- Dangerous operation (Criminal Code, s. 249)
- Flight (Criminal Code, s. 249.1)
- Criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm (street racing) (Criminal Code, ss. 249.2, 249.3)
- Dangerous operation while street racing (Criminal Code, s. 249.4)
- Impaired operation/care or control; Over 80 operation/care or control; refuse/failure to comply with a demand (Criminal Code, ss. 253, 254, 255).
- The accused person was not required to use an interlock device at the time of the offence.
- The accused person has not received a lifetime suspension for multiple convictions of offences listed above, which was then subsequently reduced to a 10-year suspension.
- The offence did not cause death or bodily harm.
- No order by a judge otherwise precluding eligibility for Stream A or Stream B.
Order by judge to preclude eligibility:
Notwithstanding the fact that one meets the minimum qualifications for the reduced driving prohibition, a judge may make an order precluding eligibility. Factors to be considered by a judge could include whether there was an accident, the level of the blood alcohol readings, a bad driving record, a criminal record showing that a person has a history of not complying with court orders, or the circumstances of the offence.
Listed below are some frequently asked questions about the reduced driving prohibitions
Does a person qualify for the reduced driving prohibitions program if they are charged with just refusing or failing to provide a breath sample?
Does the program apply retroactively? If a person was found guilty prior to August 3, 2010, and are still serving their 12 month driving prohibition on August 3, 2010, can they apply to have the prohibition reduced?
No. The Ministry of Transportation has decided it will not apply retroactively.
What if the offence involves an accident? What if the blood-alcohol content readings are very high?
A person can still the meet the minimum qualifications, provided a judge does not order otherwise, and in cases of an accident, provided the offence did not cause death or bodily harm.
To learn more about whether you are eligible for any of the reduced driving prohibition programs or to discuss a drinking and driving case call Daniel Brown for a consultation at (416) 297-7200.