DUI Penalties in Canada

By Caryn Anderson - Updated June 16, 2017
Canada law and justice system with national flag

In Canada, drunk drivers are often charged with two offenses: impaired driving and “driving over 80” (or having a blood alcohol level over 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood). The punishment is the same whether you are convicted of one or both offenses. Penalties are substantial and include a fine, possible jail time, a criminal record and loss of your driver’s license.

Criminal Conviction

A DUI is a federal offense in Canada and will result in a criminal conviction on your record. The Crown of Canada determines whether prosecution is pursued as an indictment (equivalent of a felony in the United States) or as a summary conviction (equivalent of a misdemeanor in the U.S.). Most DUI’s in Canada are prosecuted as summary convictions.

Fine/Jail Time

On July 2, 2008, Canada’s minimum punishment for DUI offenses was amended. A first offense carries a minimum fine of $1,000 and second offenses within a 10-year period are punishable by a minimum 30-day jail term. Each subsequent conviction will result in jail time of at least 120 days. Summary convictions carry a maximum sentence of 18 months.

Loss of License

A DUI conviction means loss of driving privileges. For a first offense, driving is prohibited for at least one year. A second or third conviction means a loss of license for at least two or three years, respectively.

Additional Fines For Driving While Prohibited

Driving during the time before your trial is prohibited and, if caught, fines range from $500 to $2,000. Second offenses are punishable with the same fine plus a minimum of 14 days in jail. An additional year of prohibited driving restrictions will be added to your sentence. Driving after you have been convicted, during the period of driving prohibition, carries a similar penalty.

Travel Restrictions

Those convicted of a DUI or DWI in the U.S. within the past ten years may be denied entrance into Canada. Since DUI (having a blood alcohol level above .08 in the United States) is the equivalent of a serious criminal offense, only those deemed rehabilitated can enter the country. This involves applying for an individual criminal rehabilitation by submitting items such as an application along with proof that you have served your sentence, paid all associated fines and three letters of reference.

About the Author

Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.

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