Other Ways to Lose Your Licence
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Other Ways to Lose Your Licence

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To promote safe driving for Ontarians, the province has some of the strictest driving laws regarding driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, careless driving, “stunt” driving, fleeing police or a collision scene, and so on. In addition to lengthy suspensions for driving offences, court sanctions can quickly escalate and include fines in the tens of thousands of dollars, reinstatement fees, licence restrictions, lifetime bans and even jail time.

Suspensions

Your licence may also be suspended for the following reasons:

  • Escalating sanctions
  • Zero Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for novice and young drivers
  • Medical suspension
  • Discretionary HTA suspensions
  • Mandatory HTA suspensions
  • Administrative driver’s licence suspension (ADLS)
  • “Warn-range” suspension
  • Novice-driver violations

Escalating sanctions

Escalating sanctions for novice drivers would apply if any of the following occurrences have taken place within a five-year period:

  • Any repeat violations of novice restrictions
  • Any HTA convictions for four or more demerit points
  • Court-ordered licence suspensions.

Sanctions – dangerous behaviours

The risk of a fatality or serious injury is almost five times greater for vehicles crashing at 50 km/h or more above the posted highway limit. The increase in risk is even greater on roads with lower posted limits. For example, on roads with a posted limit of 60 km/h or less, the risk of a fatality or serious injury is almost eight times greater for vehicles colliding at 50 km/h or more above the posted limit.

Other types of aggressive driving include:

  • Driving 50 km/h or more above the posted speed limit
  • Driving a motor vehicle to prevent another vehicle from passing
  • Intentionally cutting off another vehicle
  • Street racing
  • Driving stunts

The use of a connected nitrous-oxide system while driving on a highway is prohibited.

For information on the regulation, you can visit the ontario.ca/laws.

Sanctions – careless driving

Careless driving is defined as: driving without due care, attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway; and, anyone, who chooses to put themselves and other road users at risk by driving aggressively or carelessly. If convicted of careless driving a driver can face tough sanctions.

Zero Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for novice and young drivers

All drivers who are 21 and under, regardless of licence class, must have a BAC level of zero when operating a motor vehicle. You will receive a 24-hour roadside driver-licence suspension. If convicted, you could face a fine and at least a 30-day licence suspension.

Medical suspension

All doctors must report the names and addresses of everyone 16 years or older who has a condition that may affect their ability to drive safely (for example, a stroke, heart condition or dizziness, among others). Doctors report this information to the Ministry of Transportation, and it is not given to anyone else. Your driver’s licence may be suspended until new medical evidence shows that the condition does not pose a safety risk.

Mandatory HTA suspensions

If you have been convicted of a driving offence in another Canadian province, the State of New York or Michigan, demerit points will be added to your driving record just as if the offence happened in Ontario.

Your licence will be suspended:

  • If you fail to stop for a police officer (a minimum of five years)
  • If you don’t pay a traffic fine when ordered by the court

Administrative driver’s licence suspension (ADLS)

Your licence will be suspended immediately for 90 days:

  • If your BAC is more than 80 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood (.08)
  • If you fail or refuse to give a breath, blood, oral fluid or urine sample when asked by police
  • If you fail or refuse to perform physical co-ordination tests or submit to a drug evaluation when required by police

This suspension takes effect at the roadside or police station. It is separate from any criminal charges or prosecution that may also take place.

“Warn-range” suspension

Drivers who register a blood-alcohol concentration in the “warn range” of .05 to .08 pose an immediate danger to themselves and other road users. If caught driving in the warn range, you will receive an immediate driver’s-licence suspension at the roadside:

  • For three days for a first occurrence
  • For seven days for a second occurrence, and you must undergo a remedial alcohol-education program
  • Substantially increased penalties and sanctions for each subsequent occurrence

Novice-driver violations

Drivers holding novice licences must follow the specific rules for their class of licence. If you violate any of the graduated-licensing conditions, your licence will be suspended for 30 days. This suspension takes effect from the time you surrender your licence. You can lose your licence for up to two years if you fail to hand it over.

Your licence will be cancelled:

  • If you fail a driver’s re-examination
  • If you don’t pay your reinstatement fee or administrative monetary penalty following a suspension
  • If your cheque for licence fees are not honoured by your bank
  • If you voluntarily surrender your driver’s licence to the Ministry of Transportation, or it is surrendered or returned by another jurisdiction

Criminal Code suspensions

You will receive a one-year licence suspension the first time you are convicted of a Criminal Code offence. Subsequent offences increase substantially to a lifetime ban from driving. Convictions will remain on your driver’s record for a minimum of 10 years.

Your licence will be suspended if you are convicted of any of the following Criminal Code offences:

  • Driving or having care and control of a vehicle, including boats, when your BAC is more than 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood (.08)
  • Refusing to submit to a breath test for alcohol
  • Failing or refusing to provide a breath sample for roadside testing
  • Failing to remain at the scene of a collision
  • Dangerous driving
  • Causing death or bodily harm by criminal negligence
  • Failing to stop for police

Remedial measures

There are several types of remedial measures. The mandatory Back on Track program is for all drivers convicted of impaired, driving-related Criminal Code offences. Drivers with more than one “Warn Range” conviction will be required to take an alcohol-education and/or alcohol-treatment program. If your driver’s licence has been suspended because of a Criminal Code conviction, your licence will remain suspended until you have completed the remedial requirements.

Driving under suspension

You may not drive, under any circumstances, when your licence is suspended. If you are convicted of driving while your licence is suspended for an HTA offence, you will face fines in the thousands of dollars. The court may order you to spend up to six months in jail. Six months will be added to your current suspension as well. If you are found guilty of driving while your licence is suspended for a Criminal Code offence, you can face fines of tens of thousands of dollars and spend time in jail.

Driving while prohibited

This is a prohibition order under the Criminal Code conviction. When convicted of violation of the order, you will get a suspension of one year for a first offence or two years for a subsequent offence.

Vehicle-Impoundment Program

To counter the dangerous behaviours of impaired and suspended driving, Ontario law includes seven-day vehicle impoundments for:

  • Drivers operating a vehicle while under a Highway Traffic Act licence suspension
  • Drivers caught without a required ignition interlock
  • All drivers caught with a BAC over .08, or who fail/refuse to comply with a demand made by a police officer under the Criminal Code of Canada

If you are caught driving while your licence is suspended for a Criminal Code offence, the vehicle you are driving will be impounded for a minimum of 45 days. These vehicle impoundments apply regardless of whether the vehicle is borrowed from a friend or family member, business, employer or is rented. The owner of the vehicle must pay the towing and storage costs before the vehicle will be released.

The Vehicle-Impoundment Program makes vehicle owners responsible for ensuring that anyone driving their vehicles is not suspended. People loaning or renting their vehicles can verify that a driver’s licence is valid by phone or online. You can also get a driver’s abstract at any Service Ontario centre. There is a nominal fee for each licence checked.

Impaired driving

Driving when your ability is impaired by alcohol or a drug is a crime in Canada. Your vehicle does not have to be moving; you can be charged if you are impaired behind the wheel, even if you have not started to drive.

In circumstances involving possible impairment by a drug or a combination of alcohol and a drug, police can require a driver to:

  • Provide breath samples
  • Perform standardized field sobriety tests
  • Conduct a drug recognition evaluation
  • Provide oral fluid, urine or blood samples for screening

If you fail or refuse to comply with any of these demands, you will be charged under the Criminal Code.

If you are 21 years of age and under, you must not drive if you have been drinking alcohol. Your blood- alcohol level must be zero.

For more information on impaired driving measures in Ontario, please visit the Ministry of Transportation website at: www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/impaired-driving.shtml

Alcohol

The police can stop any driver to determine if alcohol or drug testing is required. They may also do roadside spot checks. When stopped by the police, you may be told to blow into a machine that tests your breath for alcohol, a roadside screening device, or perform physical co-ordination tests.

If you cannot give a breath sample or it is impractical to obtain a sample of breath, the police officer can require you to provide a blood sample instead. The police may also require a driver to provide, blood, oral or urine samples. If you fail or refuse to comply with any of these demands, you will be charged under the Criminal Code.

Drugs

Criminal Code and HTA sanctions apply to drivers impaired by alcohol or a drug. In circumstances involving possible impairment by drugs or a combination of alcohol and a drug, police can require a driver to perform physical co-ordination tests and submit to a drug evaluation, and then require a driver to provide blood, oral fluid or urine samples. If you fail or refuse to comply with any of these demands, you will be charged under the Criminal Code.

Illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine are not the only problem. Some drugs that your doctor may prescribe for you and some over-the-counter drugs can also impair your driving. Here are some points you should remember:

  • If you use prescription medicines or get allergy shots, ask your doctor about side effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, nausea or drowsiness that could affect your driving.
  • Read the information on the package of any over-the-counter medicine, including cold, allergy, sedative or diet pills.
  • Drugs and any amount of alcohol together can have dangerous effects, even several days after you have taken the drug.
  • Do not take a chance; ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Consider the consequences of impaired driving

Ontario leads the way in combating drinking and driving through some of the toughest laws and programs in North America, including licence suspensions, heavy fines, vehicle impoundment, mandatory alcohol-education and -treatment programs, and the ignition interlock program. Depending on your number of prior convictions, you may be fined up to $50,000, serve time in jail or lose your licence permanently.

For impaired driving that causes injury or death, the penalties are even more severe. If you are convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm, you may be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. Impaired driving causing death can carry a sentence of imprisonment for life.

If you drink and drive and are involved in a collision, you may suffer serious injury or cause serious injury to someone else. Your insurance company might not pay for your medical or rehabilitation costs, or for the damage to your or the other person’s vehicle. Your insurance costs may rise significantly. You may have to pay substantial legal costs as well.

If you are required to drive on the job, a licence suspension could mean losing your employment.

Driver-improvement interview

The other remedial-measures program is for drivers convicted of non-drinking-and-driving-related Criminal Code offences who have no previous alcohol-related convictions. You must undergo a Ministry of Transportation driver-improvement interview.

If you have not completed the driver-improvement interview by the time your Criminal Code suspension expires, your licence will be further suspended until you have completed the remedial requirements.

This program also applies to Ontario residents convicted of driving-related Criminal Code offences in any other province of Canada, or equivalent offences in the states of Michigan and New York, as well as to out-of-province drivers who are convicted in Ontario.