A number of years ago, the Ontario government brought in the ignition interlock program. The ignition interlock program is designed for people who either A) plead guilty to an impaired driving by alcohol charge or [B] are found guilty at trial.
You do not qualify if it’s impaired by drug, and that’s an important point. It has to be impaired by alcohol. And I’d like to review between A, B, C, and D ignition interlock.
Let’s look at stream A. Stream A, the legislation says this: if a person pleads guilty within 90 days of their arrest, of an impaired driving by alcohol charge, they qualify potentially for stream A interlock.
So you go to court and you plead guilty within 90 days of your arrest. So what will the judge do for a first-time offender? The judge is going to take your license automatically, usually for a one year driving prohibition.
Now, hopefully in advance, you’ve negotiated to qualify for stream A interlock with the crown. So hopefully the crown says “your honour, I’m not opposed to their application.” In that scenario, the judge will likely say “well, I’m not opposed either. You can apply.”
And then it’s up to the MTO – the Ministry of Transportation – as to whether you qualify. So what you do then, is you have to apply for the ‘back on track’ program, it’s an alcohol awareness program and you have to pay for that, and it’s not cheap. It’s about $650. You have to fill out a package of information with the ministry and apply for the interlock.
Now the device, and the approval, all has to take place within 90 days of the date of the guilty plea, so the crown will send the information to the MTO, the clerk of the court, and then the MTO will hopefully approve you, so you’ll get the device in your car. So you can’t drive for 90 days after your guilty plea, and then the device goes in your car for 9 months if you’re approved. Thats’ stream A.
Stream B ignition interlock is a similar program – different timelines. This applies to a person who, either A) pleads guilty after 3 months, after the date of their arrest, or B) pleads guilty at trial. What happens here?
So, for a first offender trial or (or whose found guilty), the judge will again take your license for the mandatory minimum: one year for a first offender, and hopefully say “well, I’ll let you apply for stream B”. Again it’s up to the MTO, whether the application goes through, and usually in most cases it will if the judge allows it.
So the judge then will say that you absolutely cannot drive for 6 months, and you hopefully can get that device in your car after that. So 6 months of no driving after your guilty plea or sentencing at trial, followed by 12 months of the interlock device. So that’s stream B.
Stream C is the old system we used to have before they brought in stream A and B. This applies to people who say “you know what, I can’t afford the device, I don’t want interlock”. What happens to them? Again, they plead guilty or they’re found guilty. First offender, the judge takes their license for a year – year driving prohibition. They can’t drive for that full year, because they didn’t apply for interlock. If they want to drive in the second year, they have to make an application for interlock in advance of that year. They may say “I’m just gonna sit out two years”. So they can’t get their license back for two years or they could drive with interlock in that 2nd year. It’s their choice, if the MTO approves. So that’s stream C.
Stream D is little-known. You won’t find information. It’s hard to find information online, a lot of lawyers don’t even know about stream D. Stream D applies to that situation where a person has a prior conviction for impaired driving by alcohol-related type of offence. The ministry keeps that record for 10 years. What happens there? So if that person pleads guilty or is found guilty within 90 days of the day of their arrest, they can qualify potentially for stream D if the judge allows them to. So what happens there is typically going to be a 9 months absolute prohibition from driving where you can’t drive, followed by 18 months of interlock, that’s stream D.
Quick tip again which I want to reiterate. It’s very important: I would mark down 89 days – I pretend it’s 89 days. The legislation says 90 days, I believe from a practical perspective and other lawyers I think will back me up online who’ve studied this, that it’s actually 89 days so you may be out of luck in 90 days from a practical perspective. So make sure you enter your guilty plea before the 90 days are up. In other words, 89 days or before. In a nutshell that’s the short version of what stream A through D ignition interlock is all about.