Impaired & Dwi Lawyer

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In Ontario, driving-related offences are handled and punished sternly by the justice system. The province has strict laws that drivers have to adhere to for the safety of all road users and pedestrians. Those who break them face severe consequences, including immediate ones when charged with the offence and others after a successful conviction.

Impaired driving (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is one of Canada’s most serious driving-related offences. This is because thousands of lives are lost each year through road accidents resulting from intoxication.

Given that the federal government intensified the rules and increased the penalties for impaired driving in 2018, persons charged with such and related driving offences are now facing severe consequences in addition to the harsh provincial penalties. This article explores impaired driving, the possible penalties, and the importance of consulting a DUI lawyer in Toronto when facing such or related charges.

What Is Impaired Driving or Driving While Intoxicated?

Impaired driving is a serious criminal offence in Ontario. It can be defined as the operation or care of a motorized vehicle while your ability to do so is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Motorized vehicles include cars, motorcycles, ATVs, aircraft, and more.

To be charged with alcohol or drug (marijuana, prescription medications, LSD, cocaine, and more) impaired driving, or a combination of both, your alcohol or/and drug concentration doesn’t have to be over the legal limit. All the prosecution needs to prove is that you were impaired regardless of the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system.

When charged with impaired driving, do not plead guilty even if the charges against you seem strong. There are possible defences to every case, and our impaired driving attorneys can help you avoid a conviction or get the charges withdrawn in favour of a diversion program.

Impaired Driving Provisions by The Criminal Code

According to section 320.14 of the Criminal Code,

  • Everyone commits an offence who
  • Operates a conveyance while the person’s ability to operate it is impaired to any degree by alcohol or a drug or by a combination of alcohol and a drug;

In the same section, provisions for driving while over 80mgs are also provided. This charge focuses on operating a vehicle while your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit. As stated earlier, one can face impaired driving or DWI charges even if their BAC is below the legal limit. All the police need is to prove that your ability to drive or operate a conveyance is impaired by drugs, alcohol, or both, and they’ll charge you with a criminal offence.

For a successful conviction, the Crown must prove the alcohol or drug impairment charge beyond a reasonable doubt. With a skilled lawyer by your side, it’s possible to fight the charges and attain a favourable outcome, such as reduced or dropped charges.

Contact Zamani Law for a free assessment of your impaired driving criminal charges.

Impaired Driving Penalties

Alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired driving offences carry similar penalties as provided by the Criminal Code. These penalties are imposed upon a successful conviction and are an addition to the immediate provincial penalties issued after failing a standardized field sobriety test.

Penalties Under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act

If the police conduct a field sobriety test and determine that you’re driving while impaired, you can face immediate penalties as provided by the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (OHTA). These include:

  • 90-day roadside licence suspension
  • 7-day vehicle impoundment
  • $550 fine
  • Licence reinstatement fee
  • Mandatory treatment or education program (for second and subsequent offences within ten years)
  • Ignition interlock program for at least 6 months (for third and subsequent offences within 10 years) after your license is reinstated

Automatic roadside penalties are a way to discourage people from driving after alcohol or drug use. If your blood alcohol is 80 mg or more, you’ll face the same provincial consequences listed above. Also, the Ontario province introduced a warn range (BAC of 0.05 to 0.079), where drivers face $250-$450 fines and between 3 to 30-days licence suspension, among other penalties.

Criminal Code penalties

Drivers found impaired by drugs or alcohol, or a combination of the two, can face impaired driving criminal charges. The charges carry a range of potential penalties that vary depending on whether it’s your first or subsequent offence. Below are some possible consequences that one can face if convicted.


Impaired Driving Penalties






Jail Time

Licence Suspension

Other Penalties

1st offence

$1000 mandatory minimum

·       No mandatory jail time

·       Maximum 10 years for indictable offences

·       Maximum 2 years for summary offences


1-year minimum licence suspension

·       Mandatory education or treatment program

2nd offence

Fine determined by a judge (not more than $5,000)

·       Mandatory minimum 30 days in jail

·       Maximum 10 years for indictable offences

·       Maximum 2 years for summary offences

2 years minimum licence suspension

·       Compulsory education or treatment program

·       Alcohol ignition device for 3 or more months

3rd and subsequent offences

Fine determined by the judge (not more than $5,000)

·       Mandatory minimum 120 days in jail

·       Maximum 10 years for indictable offences

·       Maximum 2 years for summary offences.

·       3-years minimum licence suspension

·       Possibility of a lifetime suspension

·       Mandatory education or treatment program

·       Alcohol ignition device for 6 or more months


Note that if you cause bodily harm or death due to impaired driving. The possible penalties are more severe:

  • Impaired driving causing bodily harm: up to 14 years imprisonment
  • Impaired driving causing death: life imprisonment

Contact A Skilled Criminal Defence Lawyer in Toronto

Getting charged with impaired driving can be daunting and scary as the possible consequences upon the finding of guilt or pleading guilty are severe and life-changing. These include the penalties listed in the Criminal Code and the collateral consequences of a criminal record, such as a hard time finding employment.

When facing impaired driving charges, it’s requisite to get the knowledge, counsel and support you deserve by retaining an experienced criminal defence lawyer.

Get in touch with Zamani Law today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Impaired Driving and Over 80 Charges are the Canadian Equivalent of the American Terms DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Drive Under the Influence)


Impaired drivng (by drug or alcohol) relates to a person’s physical ability to operate a motor vehicle or vessel.  Slight impairment of a person’s ability to operate a vehicle (or vessel) is sufficient to constitute the offence.  However, proof of impairment is often not readily apparent and can be difficult to prove.  In accident cases, the physical consequences of the accident are often consistent with normal signs of impairment making proof beyond reasonable doubt extremely difficult.  The simple odour of alcohol by itself does not support a conviction for impaired driving.

Over 80 is an arbitrary level of alcohol that the government has deemed unacceptable when operating a motor vehicle.  Many individuals exhibit no signs of impairment with alcohol levels above 80.

There are a number of various consequences. For a brief, but not complete summary:


There are numerous ways that the readings can be excluded from evidence ranging from illegal stop by police, illegal search issues, improper use of a breathalyzer instrument, improper timing of the breath tests to the taking a video of an accused urinating behind the doors of the bathroom facilities. There are far too many possible issues to list but the answer to the question is that it is possible to win even if you blew over 80 and again each case turns on its own facts.

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