DUI in Ontario | Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm

Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while impaired (DWI), driving while intoxicated, and impaired driving are the names of one of the most severe charges in Ontario and Canada overall – impaired driving.

Getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to disastrous consequences and turn your life upside down. Firstly, it increases the chances of getting into an accident. Secondly, it may result in huge fines, imprisonment, losing your driver’s licence or even a job, and a criminal record.

That’s why, once you’ve got caught driving while impaired, immediately call your DUI lawyer in Ontario and don’t talk to the police until you get a proper legal consultation! And remember – the police can’t say you’re guilty; you’re not guilty until the judge says so.


What is DUI in Ontario? 

Before diving into the consequences of drinking and driving, let’s clarify what is considered impaired driving by the Criminal Law of Canada.

According to section 320(14) of the Criminal Law of Canada, everyone who operates or assists the operation of a motor vehicle, aircraft, railway equipment, or vessel commits an offence if:

  • the person has consumed alcohol or any drug or a combination of two and the concentration in the blood exceeds the limits;
  • the person’s ability to operate was affected by alcohol or drugs to any degree. 

In short, you can be accused of drinking and driving in Ontario even if your blood concentration is lower than established limits. 


There are also prohibited levels of alcohol and drugs in blood:

  • Legal blood alcohol limit in Ontario: 80 mg or more per 100 ml of blood; warn range – 50~79 mg;
  • Cannabis (THC): 2 ng (less serious offence) & 5 ng (more serious one) per 100 ml of blood.
  • Combination of cannabis and alcohol: ≥50mg of alcohol per 100ml blood and ≥2.5 ng of THC per ml of blood.
  • Other drugs: any detectable amount of psilocybin, LSD, ketamine, psilocin, PCP, cocaine, methamphetamine or 6-mam in the blood system. 

The more you exceed the level of any substance, the more severe penalties you’ll get.


Penalties for Impaired Driving in Ontario

As mentioned, driving under influence is not a good idea because of the penalties and consequences. And one of the most important things here to understand is that there are penalties under both the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and the Criminal Code of Canada. 

Penalties are the same for drug-impaired and alcohol-impaired driving.

Police officers have various equipment & tests to detect impaired drivers, including sobriety tests and roadside drug screening tools. And once they’ve found prohibited substances in your blood system, there will be corresponding legal consequences of driving under the influence. They may vary depending on your age, type of licence and amount of alcohol/drugs in your blood.


Immediate impaired driving penalties in Ontario under the Highway Traffic Act:

First offence:

  • 90 days roadside licence suspension;
  • 7 days vehicle seizure;
  • $550 fine;
  • additional expenditures: licence reinstatement fee.

Second offence:

  • 90 days roadside licence suspension;
  • 7 days vehicle seizure;
  • $550 fine;
  • fee for licence reinstatement;
  • mandatory education or treatment program.

Third offence:

  • 90 days roadside licence suspension;
  • 7 days vehicle seizure;
  • $550 fine;
  • fee for licence reinstatement;
  • mandatory education or treatment program;
  • Ignition interlock condition for 6+ months.


Ontario DUI penalties upon conviction:

First conviction:

  • 1+ year driver’s licence suspension
  • mandatory education or treatment program (at your expense)
  • installation of ignition interlock system in your vehicle for at least 1 year (at your cost)

Second conviction:

  • 3+ years driver’s licence suspension
  • mandatory education or treatment program (at your cost)
  • installation of ignition interlock system in your vehicle for at least 3 years (at your expense)
  • medical evaluation to determine if you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario

Third conviction:

  • lifetime driver’s licence suspension
  • mandatory education or treatment program  (at your cost)
  • installation of ignition interlock system in your vehicle for at least 6 years (at your expense)
  • medical evaluation to determine if you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario

A conviction for DUI is a signal to your insurance company that you’re a “high-risk driver”. That’s why your premiums may rise as high as $10,000/year for the next five years. Or there were cases when insurance companies cancelled policies at all. 

Please note that upon conviction you won’t be able to operate any vehicle or equipment that is pulled, pushed or driven by any type of engine (including farm & construction equipment). 


DUI Penalties under the Criminal Code

In addition, if you’ve got a DUI criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada (section 320(14)), the minimum penalties will be the following:

First offence:

  • Criminal record;
  • Fine – not less than $1,000;
  • Driver’s licence suspension for 1 year;
  • Participation in counselling program – “Back On Track” course in Ontario (at your expense)
  • Installation of ignition interlock system in your vehicle for at least 1 year (at your expense).

Second offence:

  • Mandatory imprisonment for at least 30 days;
  • Driver’s licence suspension for 3 years;
  • Participation in counselling program – “Back On Track” course in Ontario (at your expense)
  • Installation of ignition interlock system in your vehicle for at least 1 year (at your expense).

The more offences you have, the more severe punishment you get. The jail term can be increased up to 10 years upon conviction. Your licence can be suspended for a lifetime.


A criminal record for impaired driving stays with you for life. It means that:

  • it can be a deciding factor if you apply for a job;
  • it can make you unsuitable for some types of jobs;
  • it can restrict your travel to the USA, UK, Australia or other countries;
  • Your photos and fingertips will be recorded and kept in the Canadian Police Information Centre and will be available to all police agencies.

Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm

This is a serious indictable offence, leading to devastating consequences, such as imprisonment for 14 years and fines.

If you were driving your car while impaired and caused bodily harm to someone, you’re in trouble. By the way, someone can be not only a person on the street or in another car but also one of your passengers. 

Impaired driving causing bodily harm is such an offence that allows prosecutors to choose the way they will pursue your case – it can be a summary conviction or indictable offence (indictment). Penalties for summary offences are less serious.

Penalties for DUI Causing Bodily Harm (Summary Conviction)

  • Minimum fine – $1,000
  • Imprisonment: max. 2 years less a day

Penalties for DUI Causing Bodily Harm (Indictment)

  • Minimum fine  – $1,000
  • Imprisonment: max. 14 years

How To Fight DUI Charges in Ontario

Drunk driving can impact the lives of everyone involved. If you’ve been charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm, you’re facing life-changing consequences. That’s why the best investment in your future will be hiring a driving while intoxicated lawyer to defend your freedom in court.

How to choose a good impaired driving lawyer?

  1. Pay attention to their experience in criminal trials;
  2. Check if they have deep knowledge of the criminal law;
  3. A good DUI lawyer has a strong persuasive ability to negotiate and dispute.

Things to know about Fighting DUI Charge:

  • Not every case goes to trial – some DUI charges can be resolved prior to it.
  • Sometimes impaired driving charges can be withdrawn or reduced to a traffic ticket (for example, careless driving) or dropped to such a resolution that helps to avoid a criminal record. 
  • The police have strict instructions on collecting and presenting evidence about each DUI case to the court. Everything must be done according to them. If not – the charge can be disputed. 
  • You do not necessarily need to appear in court (a lawyer can appear on your behalf). Everything depends on the case.


Our professionals are always ready to help you in the most challenging times. We assist our clients with driving violations and criminal cases within our scope of practice according to the rules of the Law Society of Ontario. In case of more serious matters, we’ll connect you with an appropriate criminal lawyer that has a deep knowledge and understanding of criminal, traffic & Ontario drinking and driving laws. 

Our lawyers have a proven track record of winning in courts. Because they know how to minimize the severity of your sentencing and save driving privilege with the help of an effective defence strategy. They also have a good reputation among judges.


What we provide:

  • legal support at all stages;
  • development of individual defence strategy;
  • representation in court and at trials;
  • trials preparation (if applicable);
  • all paperwork associated with your case.

If you need legal advice, just make a call! There is no obligation. The initial consultation is free. Privacy and confidentiality are guaranteed. 

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    FAQ

    Here we've prepared a short list of frequently asked questions in order to provide quick answers to anyone who's looking for information associated with the topic. If you need more clarification, please don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

    👉What is Ontario legal alcohol limit?

    Ontario alcohol driving limit is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. Warn range limit is 50~79 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

    👉Can you go to jail for a DUI in Ontario?

    As mentioned in the article, everything depends on the case. But if it’s not your first DUI conviction - you may go to jail.

    👉Is DUI a criminal offense in Canada?

    Yes, DUI is a criminal offence in Canada, but it goes on your record ONLY if you’re convicted.

    👉How much does a DUI cost in Ontario?

    Fines vary depending on the conviction. Usually, they start from $1,000. But there are additional costs for licence reinstatement fee, counselling program, ignition interlock system and highly inflated insurance rates for the next 5 years.

    👉How long does a DUI stay on your driving record in Canada?

    If it’s a criminal offence and you’re convicted - it stays with you forever.

    Don’t just pay the fine or go to court alone

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