In the realm of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) convictions, there exists a critical consideration known as the 10-year limitation period. This period, assessed by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) under the Highway Traffic Act, plays a pivotal role in determining the severity of penalties for subsequent DUI convictions. Let’s delve into the intricacies of this limitation period and its implications.

The 10-Year Limitation Period Explained

  • Definition of the Period:
    • The 10-year limitation period refers to the retrospective window the MTO examines when assessing the number of prior DUI convictions for an individual.
  • Scenario Analysis:
    • Consider a scenario where an individual pleads guilty to a DUI conviction and is sentenced today. The MTO, in determining whether it’s a second or third conviction, looks back precisely 10 years from the sentencing date.
  • Calculation of Convictions:
    • If a DUI conviction occurred within the last 10 years and another DUI conviction exists within 10 years of that prior conviction, it is considered a subsequent conviction.
    • For a third conviction, the consequence is a lifetime suspension from the Ministry, independent of court-imposed penalties.
  • Impact on Penalties:
    • A second conviction within the 10-year period results in a three-year license suspension, followed by a mandatory interlock device requirement for an additional three years.
  • Strategic Considerations:
    • Individuals facing DUI charges must be aware of this 10-year limitation period and its consequences.
    • Proper legal advice is crucial to navigate the situation strategically and potentially delay a guilty plea or finding of guilt beyond the 10-year mark.
  • Avoiding Lifetime Suspension:
    • By understanding and strategically leveraging the 10-year limitation, individuals may be able to avoid the severe penalty of a lifetime suspension for a third DUI conviction.

Legal Counsel’s Role

  • Strategic Timing:
    • Experienced DUI lawyers are attuned to the significance of the 10-year limitation period and may employ strategies to “buy” time, ensuring a guilty plea falls outside this period.
  • Avoiding Unnecessary Consequences:
    • Inexperienced legal representation may inadvertently expose individuals to harsh consequences by not considering the implications of the 10-year limitation.
  • Lifetime Suspension Prevention:
    • Proper legal advice can be instrumental in preventing a lifetime suspension, offering individuals a chance for rehabilitation and reintegration.


The 10-year limitation period in DUI cases is a critical element that significantly influences the penalties individuals may face. Awareness of this period, coupled with strategic legal guidance, empowers individuals to make informed decisions and potentially mitigate the severity of consequences associated with subsequent DUI convictions.

For personalized legal advice tailored to your specific situation, consult with our experienced DUI legal team.

Video Transcription:

I have a very interesting topic for you and that is the 10-year limitation DUI period that the Ministry of Transportation (“MTO”) considers for DUI convictions. And what do I mean by this? First of all, let’s consider an example where you plead guilty to a DUI conviction today and are sentenced today. In considering whether it’s a second or a third conviction, the MTO is going go back to see if there are any convictions within the last ten years from the exact date you were sentenced. So they would just go back ten years and no further If there is a DUI conviction within the last 10-year and one within 10 years of that prior conviction, they are going to consider that a second or a third conviction as the case may be. If it’s a third conviction, you are going to face a life time suspension from the Ministry. That’s aside from what the court is going to sentence you to. The judge is going to throw you in jail for lengthy mandatory minimum jail terms if you have a prior DUI conviction if the crown files a Notice of Application for Increased Penalty. But now the MTO is going to make it worse by taking your licence for life. If it’s a second conviction, what they are going to do, if you don’t qualify for Stream D, ignition interlock, you should apply for that by the way, is that the MTO is going to suspend your licence for three years if you have a prior impaired driving conviction within ten years, and then they are going to require you to put an interlock on your car at the end of that three-year suspension for another three years. It sounds pretty harsh doesn’t it? Or you can simply choose not to drive for a full 6-years before getting your licence back as long as you have taken the Back on Track Program. But the thing to do in that situation is the following. If it’s a second prior conviction, you should apply for Stream D ignition interlock, which means, and I covered this in another video, you absolutely cannot drive for a full 9 months from the date of your conviction in court or guilty plea and then the MTO may allow you to put an ignition interlock device in your car for 18-months after that. This is a device you blow into to show you are alcohol free to be able to drive. Then at the end of the 18-month interlock period, you should be able to get your full licence back. So as a criminal lawyer, and I have seen this happen unfortunately in the province, I have seen it happen recently. I have seen a situation where an inexperienced DUI lawyer was not alive to this key 10-year limitation period. They had a client. And I have unfortunately seen this happen several times frankly. They had a client who gets a conviction today, or I should say is charged today. And there’s a prior conviction say 9-years ago in the MTO records. Well, you do not want to be pleading that client guilty tomorrow morning because it’s going to be within ten years and have devastating consequences. That lawyer needs to buy time somehow to get that guilty plea past the 10-year limitation period. Otherwise, they can face these onerous consequences for a second prior conviction or even a life time suspension for a third prior conviction, if you can imagine that. It’s a very important limitation period and it is something to be very alive to and there are ways and means of “buying” time so that you get past your 10-year limitation period before you plead guilty or are found guilty. If you can somehow delay the guilty plea or finding of guilt beyond the 10-year limitation period, theMTO will consider your guilty plea as your very first DUI. Now, when you have a recent DUI prior conviction, obviously a judge will probably throw you in jail, but God help you when you get a lifetime suspension when it could have been avoided by receiving proper legal advice. So this something to be very aware of and anyone who practices DUI law regularly is going to be very alive to this particular issue.

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