Impaired Driving Costs
It has now been just over two years since I was convicted of Impaired Driving. As a result, I no longer require the “I” as a “condition” on my drivers license. Not that it matters much in the near future as I still don’t have a vehicle that I can drive. More on that in a bit.
As I wrote previously, I was surprised in June when I discovered that the condition for the ignition interlock was one year from the date that I could get my license reinstated, not one year from when I did have it reinstated. So for anyone worried about that, as long as you have been through the Back On Track program in Ontario, and you’ve met all conditions imposed upon you when you were convicted including paying your fine and any other costs the court ordered, you are eligible to get your drivers license back and from that date, you have whatever time that has already expired to your credit as far as the interlock requirement.
I could have applied to have my license reinstated last August 2011, but with no vehicle to put an ignition interlock in, as well as a dispute which I eventually won with the Family Responsibility Office, there was no point, really. Every month, my full amount of my income was accounted for in basic living expenses too, so the reinstatement fee did not come easy.
And that is part of the difficulty for me, as I own my own business, and although I do not need to drive to work, it is hard at times to get new clients when you can not drive to their location to meet with them. I had thought I might be a lot further along by now, but unfortunately I am not.
Please think about this if you are ever tempted or think (and hope) you are “ok” to drive after drinking: An impaired driving conviction is a life changer – for the worse.
It is still going to cost me some major dollars to get my vehicle fixed up (it is worth fixing in the long run), and I had hoped that I would be much further on than I am in that regard. However, there have been a bunch of other unforeseeable things and events that have also occurred.
I wish I could say that having a vehicle that I can drive regularly is close to happening, but it seems it is still a long way off. And I miss just hopping in the Jeep with my little son in the evenings and spending a few hours fishing with him like we used to be able to do. That is perhaps one of, if not the biggest non-financial problem – the amount of dad and son time doing special things together in the outdoors like we used to has been severely reduced.
So, yes, as I wrote above – let me repeat it: An impaired driving conviction is a life changer – for the worse.
If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive and risk it. It’s not worth it, I can tell you.
One of the discussions that came up when I attended the Back On Track Education program in Ontario was the consequences of trying to travel internationally after an impaired driving charge. Most of the discussion centered around Canadians traveling to the United States and whether they would be stopped at the Border and sent back to Canada.
In the class were a couple of professional drivers who had previously made commercial trips across the border between Canada and the United States, but after their impaired charge, were reluctant to do so. From the discussion, it seemed that there was nothing official preventing someone who had an Impaired Conviction that was tried summarily and not as an indictable charge from going to the US. However, a US Customs or Immigration officer could, of their own choice, turn a convicted Canadian away.
There was discussion about lying about your conviction at the border. It is quite possible that a US Customs or Immigration officer won’t go very deep into checking out your background although US Immigration officials probably have access to CPIC – Canadian Police Information Centre computers and may be able to access the record of your conviction.
But if you lie about your conviction, you could be turned away and then banned from the United States for lying about your criminal record. So that is probably not a good idea.
If you are a Canadian planning a trip to the United States, an option may be to contact the US Embassy and talk to them directly about your situation. A Visa may be something you would want to obtain before your trip. However, that carries its own consequences too:
If in three years after you have done your sentence and paid all your fines (assuming it was a summary conviction offence you were convicted of – if indictable, it’s 5 years) and you apply for and receive a pardon, your Criminal Record will in a sense, be “hidden.” The file is not entirely destroyed – a record still remains – however, it is usually purged from normal background check channels.
After you have received a pardon, and you then travel to the United States, technically you could reply that you have no criminal record. The way the question should be worded is something to the effect, “Have you been convicted of a criminal offense for which you have not received a pardon?”
If the US Immigration officer is not satisfied with your answer, and decides to dig deeper, they will not discover your Impaired Driving conviction if you have received a pardon for it.
However, if you decide you want to travel to the US, and obtain a Visa, there will likely always be a record in the US of your criminal record. Obtaining a pardon for a conviction in Canada does not purge any record of it in the US or any other country if the record exists.
Out of our classroom discussion, it seems a Canadian who has been convicted summarily of an Impaired Driving charge in this country has the following options:
- Make your trip to the US and lie at the border about your conviction. You risk being found out and then further banned from the US for lying about your criminal record.
- Tell the truth about your conviction and risk that the Immigration Officer who asks you will be in a bad mood and decide that you are a risk to US Security for an impaired driving conviction.
- Contact the US Embassy and apply for a Visa. If you do this, assume that a record of your criminal conviction will remain forever in US records.
- Wait until you can apply for and receive a pardon.
This is just another cost of impaired driving. The sad thing is that because alcohol impairs judgement, it is actually very easy to end up driving when you shouldn’t. As we learned in our Education class of the Back On Track program, 100% of all drivers who drink, even just socially, are at risk of an impaired driving charge. You may say, (like I did), “Oh, I don’t drink and drive” and perhaps think that it is safe to drive after just a couple of drinks – and end up getting done for an Impaired, Blowing Over 80, or a DUI as it is called elsewhere.
A personal breathalyzer could be a solution if you use it, that could help you make a more informed and wise decision when your judgement is a bit (or more than a bit) impaired by consuming some alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can have pleasant effects – and as we were taught in our Back On Track education seminar, there should be no judgment upon you if you use alcohol in a way that is responsible and for it’s pleasant effects. But you must be aware that it can have an effect upon your judgement – even your judgment of how “safe” you are to drive. Getting a BAC reading might quickly help you realize you’re not “good to go” as far as driving, and keep you from these costs and consequences that even include decisions about traveling internationally.
You can get your personal breathalyzer here.
About ten days after my conviction for Impaired Driving in Ontario, I received one registered letter and and another letter that arrived by regular post from Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation. Both letters were dated three days after the conviction.
The registered letter was an official “Notice of Suspension of Driver’s Licence.” In big capital block letters, I was told that my licence is suspended under Section 41 and 43 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act for a period of 1 year. If I had an “Enhanced Driver’s Licence,” that would be affected. At this time, I have no idea what an Enhanced Driver’s Licence is and I’m pretty sure I don’t have one of those.
The letter also states that there is a $150.00 fee “or penalty” to obtain a licence after the suspension ends.
The second letter that arrived advised me that I was eligible to apply for the Reduced Suspension Program that has now come into affect in Ontario. If I apply by the date of the third month after my conviction date, I could have my licence back by that date. The letter states:
“To enter the Reduced Suspension Program, you must:
1. Be reinstated from other licence suspension (e.g. unpaid fines, medical, etc.);
2. Pay any outstanding fees or administrative monetary penalties;
3. Complete the assessment part of the Remedial Measures Program; and,
4. Arrange to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle;
To exit the Reduced Suspension Program and have the ignition interlock condition removed from your licence:
1. You must complete the full Remedial Measures Program;
2. Near the end of your ignition interlock installation period, you must provide an acceptable final ignition interlock report with no performance failures in the last three months including alcohol breath test failures or failure to provide a breath sample when the vehicle is running. Performance failures will extend your ignition interlock installation period by a further three months.”
I have once again registered for the “Back on Track” program on-line which costs $575.00. Adding up all these fees, including fines, restitution, administrative fees, lawyer’s fees, and all the other costs associated with my accident and Impaired Driving charge – I’ll be working for the government, the lawyer, and a few other people as well as the Insurance company for a number of years.
Of course, I could have avoided all of this if I had owned and used one of these.
If you’re convicted of an alcohol related driving offense, you can count on your car insurance skyrocketing – perhaps to unaffordable levels for several years if you live anywhere in North America. In Ontario, a convicted driver must go through what is called “Facility” insurance in order to be covered at a cost of upwards of 10,000 dollars a year.
Some insurance companies will simply refuse to insure you if you have a dui conviction and will cancel the insurance on your car. In the US, States will require that you have a SR-22 Certificate which is basically proof of future financial responsibility and that you have car insurance after a dui and getting your license back.
If you’re convicted of a dui and were in an accident, most insurance companies will refuse to pay for repairs for any damages to your vehicle. Have a loan on that car and it’s written off? You’re still stuck with the loan and you have nothing to show for it. Some insurance companies won’t even pay injury benefits if you were in an accident while driving impaired, although some jurisdictions require insurance companies to provide some personal injury coverage. But you likely won’t get other accident benefits such as loss of income.
A DUI charge will definitely affect your car insurance in ways you probably can’t imagine and you will have regrets for years. The simple solution? Don’t drink and drive.
In Ontario, a person convicted of impaired driving must have an ignition interlock system installed in the vehicle they drive after their license is reinstated. After your first conviction, you will lose your license for a year.
The interlock device must be installed in the vehicle for a period of at least one year. After the year expires, drivers must apply to the Ministry of Transportation to have the device removed. During the year it is installed, you must use it, and you must not miss appointments to have the device inspected. In Ontario, the devices are set so that you cannot start the vehicle if the device detects a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or more.
After the car has been started, the device will require that the driver blow into it at random times throughout their trip. This is to prevent someone else from blowing into the device in order to start the car.
The cost of installing the device and having it maintained through the year will be about $2,000.00.
If you just want to make a quick run to the bank, you will need to use the device. After completing your business at the bank, you will need to blow into it again to start your vehicle to return home. You will probably be sitting in a parking lot in view of other people who will be able to observe you blowing into it and they will know you have been convicted of an alcohol related offense.
In Ontario, the ignition interlock devices are made by Guardian Interlock Service.
The costs of an impaired driving conviction in Ontario can be enormous. Forget about the additional costs of having to take cabs and repaying friends for going out of their way to help you, and think about just the legal, government administration and insurance costs alone:
On your first conviction:
Minimum $1,000.00 fine
Mandatory Remedial “Back On Track” Program: $606.90
License Reinstatement Fee: $150.00
Insurance: Increases to $7,000.00 a year or more.
Ignition Interlock: $2,00.00
Court and Lawyer Costs: $2,000.00 to $15,000