Fully-licenced drivers over age 21 can commonly avoid drunk driving charges if they have a low amount of alcohol in their blood. However, young drivers can be arrested and charged with a drunk driving offence if they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
Ontario drivers subject to Zero-Tolerance laws include:
- Anyone age 21 or younger
- Drivers of any age who hold a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence
- Operators of a vehicle that requires an A-F driver’s licence or Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR)
- Anyone driving a road-building machine
Administrative Penalties for Breaking Zero-Tolerance Laws
If you are underage, it doesn’t matter if your blood alcohol content is below .08 or even below the DUI warning range of 0.05—any potential alcohol or drug impairment is a criminal offence. Ontario’s zero-tolerance law adds administrative penalties to the DUI-related charges you may face, including impoundment of your vehicle if nobody is able to drive it away.
Standard penalties for Zero-Tolerance DUIs include:
- First offence: Immediate three-day license suspension and 30-day licence suspension if convicted, fines between $60 and $500, a $250 penalty, and a licence reinstatement fee.
- Second offence: Immediate seven-day licence suspension and between 30- and 90-day licence suspension if convicted, fines between $60 and $500, a $350 penalty, a licence reinstatement fee, and mandatory enrollment in an alcohol education or drug treatment program.
- Third offence: Immediate 30-day licence suspension, cancellation of G1, G2, M1, or an M2 licence, 30-day licence suspension for fully-licenced drivers under the age of 21, fines between $60 and $500, a $450 penalty, mandatory enrollment in an alcohol education or drug treatment program, six months of driving with a vehicle ignition interlock device, and a licence reinstatement fee.
Consequences of an Underage DUI Conviction in Ontario
Underage and novice drivers whose DUI cases involve higher blood alcohol volumes are treated no differently than fully-licenced drivers under similar circumstances. If you’re convicted of Over 80 DUI or refuse to submit to alcohol or drug testing, you could face punishment to the full extent of the law, including:
- Loss of driver’s licence. A first conviction carries a licence suspension of one year.
- Ignition interlock. After driver’s licence reinstatement, you may be ordered to use an ignition interlock device for an additional year.
- A permanent criminal record. A conviction for DUI will create a criminal record that severely limits where you can work, live, or go to university.
- Higher insurance costs. Zero-Tolerance charges will be added to your permanent driving record, significantly increasing your insurance premiums.
How Can I Defend Myself Against Underage DUI Charges?
If you’ve been arrested or accused of DUI, you must enter a plea to these charges in court. You may be tempted to plead guilty and accept the consequences, hoping to put it all behind you as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, a guilty plea may only make matters worse.
You must have someone by your side to challenge the charges and do everything possible to avoid conviction. Our Ontario DUI lawyers can craft a defence strategy to dismiss or withdraw the charge, reduce the penalties, or get an acquittal. For example, your lawyer can question whether the police made procedural mistakes during your arrest or failed to get an accurate reading of your blood alcohol level.
At Kruse Law Firm, our criminal defence team works aggressively to get the most favorable outcome in your case and minimize the impact a criminal charge can have on your life. Contact us today at 800-699-0806 to arrange your free case review.