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The simple answer to this question is that you get what you pay for. If you want the best result as opposed to the best price you need to retain legal counsel who specializes in the defence of these types of cases. Untrained agents, despite what ever experience they may have as witnesses or spectators to the legal process simply don’t have the legal tools to ensure a proper defence. Sadly, there are many appellate decisions that review the “ineffective legal assistance” of paid agents. Although you generally have the right to have a non lawyer act for you in most drinking and driving cases a trial judge also has the power to prohibit such representation where an issue of competence arises. Although no one can be forced to retain a lawyer when they don’t want one it is important to consider the cost of losing the case.

MADD (Mothers Against Drinking and Driving) has done so: (

The immediate costs of an over .08 charge for a first time offender who has not caused damage to him/herself or others are very serious. These are:

  • Immediate 90-day license suspension
  • Criminal record
  • Down graded from 6-star driving record for total of 6 years

The estimated financial costs for this same offence are close to $20,000.00. See detailed breakdown below:


Federal fine


Back on Track program (remedial program)


Legal Costs (est. at $2,000 to $10,000)


License reinstatement fee


Increased insurance ($4,500/year for 3 years)


Ignition Interlock




 We are able to estimate $18,425.00 from only the relatively static costs. You must also take into consideration lost wages due to court time, subsequent insurance costs (if it wasn’t a first conviction), towing and impound costs, third party costs (damages incurred by other parties) and secondary transit costs due to lack of driver’s license.

The penalties, of course, are much stiffer for subsequent convictions. And if a victim is created in the crash - you have killed or injured someone - you could face life in prison for impaired driving causing death or 10 years for impaired driving causing bodily harm (injury).
Detailed Penalties
The Ministry of Transportation in Ontario has created a detailed chart, demonstrating all the potential costs and penalties associated with impaired driving. Please view the chart below and/or visit the Ministry of Transportation for more information.


Consequences under the
Highway Traffic Act

Minimum Penalties
under the Criminal Code


  • 1 year licence suspension*
  • Remedial measures requirement
  • 6 to 12 month ignition interlock condition upon reinstatement (Stream A or B)
  • 1 year driving prohibition
  • You may be able to drive after 3 months IF you plead guilty within 90 days of being charged AND install an Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device. If you are found guilty after trial the minimum  suspension period is 6 months
  • Minimum $1000 fine


  • 3-year licence suspension, IF the prior conviction was registered within the las 10 years.
  • Remedial measures requirement
  • Minimum 3 years ignition interlock condition upon reinstatement
  • 2-year driving prohibition
  • 30-day jail sentence


  • Lifetime licence suspension if the prior convictions were registered after September 30th 1993 and all convictions occur within 10 years of each other.
    (reducible to 10 years if remedial measures requirement and other conditions met)
  • Ignition interlock condition for life if suspension reduced
  • 3-year driving prohibition
  • 120-day jail sentence

Fourth and

  • Lifetime licence suspension*
  • No possibility of reinstatement
  • Same as third offence
*In addition to the penalties outlined above, the judge may issue a probation or restitution order. A probation order may include: abstaining from alcohol; under-taking community service; submitting to an alcohol or drug assessment; participating in treatment; and any “other reasonable conditions the court considers desirable”. A restitution order compels the offender to compensate the victim, but these are rarely issued in impaired driving cases.
It should be noted that these charts predate the recently increased penalties for drinking and driving offences which now provide for a minimum, mandatory sentence of a $1,000 fine for a first offence, a minimum, mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail for a 2nd conviction and at least 120 days in jail for each subsequent conviction. In any case, your vehicle will also be immediately impounded for a week and you will also lose your licence for 90 days before you even go to court.
It should be noted on being charged your vehicle will also be immediately impounded for 1 week.

Toronto Lawyer Consultation

Michael Engel B.A., LL.B.

Day : 416-520-8054      24-hour Line : 647-360-7853