Being charged with a DUI can have lasting consequences on your driving record and other aspects of your life. But how long should you expect a DUI conviction to remain on your record if you live in Ontario? And what impact can this have on your ability to drive and maintain car insurance? Understanding how long a DUI stays on your Ontario driving record can help you know what steps to take to potentially have it removed sooner.
What Is a DUI?
DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” It is an acronym for the criminal charge in Canada of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Specifically, a DUI involves:
- Driving any motorized vehicle such as a car, truck, ATV, or motorcycle
- Having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 BAC or higher (80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood). A qualified police officer may use a breathalyzer test to determine this.
- Being impaired by illegal or prescription drugs to the point that it affects one’s ability to drive safely.
- Showing signs of impairment such as slurred speech or lack of coordination, although a person may still be legally impaired despite showing such obvious signs.
A DUI is much more serious than a traffic offence. It is a criminal charge under the Criminal Code of Canada. If convicted, you may face heavy fines, license suspension, and even potential jail time. A conviction also leads to a permanent criminal record if you’re not pardoned. Anyone facing DUI charges should enlist the services of an experienced criminal lawyer Toronto who can work toward minimizing the potential consequences.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Driving Record Ontario?
Due to the criminal nature of DUI charges, convictions stay on your driving record for many years in Ontario.
Specifically, a first-time DUI conviction is considered a summary offence. As such, it will remain on your Ontario driving record for three years after your conviction date. However, if you receive a license suspension with your conviction, it will stay on your Ontario driving record for six years from the conviction date. Multiple DUI offences are indictable charges that can result in a lifetime suspension of your driver’s license in Ontario. The potential for these and other consequences underscores the importance of working with a seasoned Ontario defence lawyer who can help you understand your legal options.
Consequences of Having a DUI on Your Record
Having a DUI on your driving record can lead to numerous issues and complications regarding your right to drive in Ontario, as well as other rights. Here are some of the main consequences you may face:
Increased Insurance Rates
Car insurance companies see drivers with DUI convictions as high-risk. Expect your auto insurance premiums to increase significantly with a DUI, often by several hundred dollars per month. Maintaining coverage can become prohibitively expensive. Some insurers may even drop your policy altogether after a DUI conviction.
Difficulty Renewing Your License
When your license suspension period is over, you will need to reapply and pay fees to renew your Ontario driver’s license. But with a DUI conviction still on your record, the Ministry of Transportation will likely require you to file an Ignition Interlock application and install this breath-monitoring device in your vehicle before renewing your license.
Having a DUI conviction on your driving record can also limit your ability to travel internationally. Some countries may refuse entry upon discovery of a DUI on your record, including popular travel destinations like Mexico and the United States. U.S. Customs and Immigration officers have the right to access RCMP criminal files, so don’t expect to simply drive across the border with a DUI conviction still on your record. It is possible you could be denied entry.
Some careers also require you to maintain a valid driver’s license and clean driving record. A DUI can severely limit your job prospects in fields like truck driving, bus driving, delivery driving, and more. Many employers will not hire someone with a recent DUI conviction on their record.
Options for Removing a DUI from Your Driving Record
Many people wonder whether there are ways to secure a clean record after a DUI conviction. You have three main options when it comes to removing a DUI from your record: you can wait it out, apply for a record suspension, or appeal the conviction.
Waiting It Out
The most straightforward option for dealing with a DUI on your Ontario driving record is to simply wait out the three- or six-year period. However, this is often easier said than done, given the insurance, renewal, travel, and employment issues it can cause. Furthermore, while the DUI may disappear from your driving record after the specified time, it may remain on your criminal record for at least 80 years. For these reasons, many drivers seek alternate solutions.
Another option is to apply for a record suspension (formerly called a pardon). A record suspension is a process that essentially seals your DUI conviction from criminal background checks. Employers and border officials will no longer be able to see it. However, record suspensions can cost over $600 in fees. They also have strict eligibility requirements. Even if you pay all your fines immediately, you may need to wait three to five years after your sentence is complete before applying. Multiple offenders may need to wait ten years.
Appealing the Conviction
Some drivers attempt to overturn their DUI conviction through an appeal. The grounds for a DUI appeal can include:
- Charter violations
- Improper procedure during your arrest
- Faulty breath test machine results
If your lawyer successfully overturns your conviction, the DUI will be removed entirely from your Ontario driving record.
Contact Posner Craig Stein LLP Today
Having a DUI conviction on your driving record can have a negative impact on your life for years to come. From license renewals, to insurance rates, to employment and travel limitations, a DUI brings lasting consequences under Ontario law. Proactively seeking record suspension or appealing the conviction altogether with the help of an experienced lawyer can help you get the DUI removed from your driving record as soon as possible.
If you are facing the impact of a DUI on your Ontario driving record, contact the criminal defence lawyers at Posner Craig Stein LLP. Our compassionate legal team understands the challenges you are confronting, and we will fight to restore your rights. With offices across the GTA, including Toronto, Brampton, Milton, and Oakville, our team can help protect your driving privileges. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn about your options for overturning a DUI conviction. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can reclaim your driving freedom in Ontario.