Ignition Interlocks: Another harsh reality for those convicted of an impaired driving offence | Criminal Defence Articles by Tushar K. Pain

Most are aware of the consequences that follow a conviction for drinking and driving.  Under the Criminal Code, there are fines, driving prohibitions and a criminal record to contend with.  If its your second offence, you’re going to jail.  Under the Highway Traffic Act, there’s the automatic 90-day licence suspension before you’re even convicted.  Then, upon conviction, your licence is suspended for at least one year and you can’t get it back without completing a lengthy and expensive remedial measures program.  Now there’s more.

If you’re convicted of an impaired driving offence, you will be subject to Ontario’s Ignition Interlock Program.  Once you have jumped through all the hoops to get your licence back, it will bereinstated with a condition that you can only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device.  Of course, you can choose not to install the device and simply put off driving until the condition is removed from your licence.

For first-time offenders, the condition can be removed after one year.  For second-time offenders it’s two years and for third-time offenders its a life-time condition.

The ignition interlock device is an in-car breath screening device connected to the engine’s ignition system.  A breath sample is required before the car is started.  The reading must be under 20 (i.e. 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) in order for the car to start.  Once the car is started, random samples will be required while the engine is running.  If one is not provided or, if the result is over 20, a warning will be given and then an alarm system will activate until the ignition is turned off.

It is an offence to tamper with the device and penalties include fines and an extension of the condition’s duration.

The ignition interlock condition does not expire on its own.  Instead, you must apply to have it removed.  If you don’t, it stays on.  Of course, you are also responsible for all installation and maintenance costs for the device.