Note: The mandatory minimum fines and maximum sentence available changed on December 18, 2018. For information regarding fines for offences occurring after December 18, 2018 see this post.

Pleading guilty to impaired driving? There are many costs both personal and financial associated with that decision. First of all impaired driving is a criminal offence. You will receive a criminal record or be adding to it if you already have a record. A criminal record can affect your ability to get certain jobs and travel to other countries. There are also future changes to the Criminal Code that will result in impaired driving convictions affecting immigration status in the future.


For a first offence if you plead guilty there is a mandatory minimum fine of $1000 plus a mandatory 30% victim fine surcharge. Depending on the facts of the case the fine could be higher or a jail sentence could be imposed. There is also a mandatory minimum one year driving prohibition. You can be eligible for a restricted licence as soon as three months by participating in the ignition interlock program unless the judge orders otherwise.

Licence Suspension

Along with the federal driving prohibition, your licence will automatically be suspended by the province for a period of one year for a first conviction. That suspension will be indefinitely extended until you complete the Back on Track program. The program costs $634 and has three components: an assessment, a workshop, and a follow up interview. If you fail any component you will have to re-register at the full cost of $634. The program can also take 11 months to complete and you cannot receive your licence back until it is completed.

After you complete the Back on Track program and your provincial licence suspension expires, you can get a restricted licence. Your licence will have a condition on it that you can only drive a vehicle that has an ignition interlock device installed on it. You do not have to install the ignition interlock device. If you do not, you must wait another year until you can apply to have that condition removed.

Ignition Interlock Program

For first time offenders, there is a program to get your licence back sooner. First you must complete the assessment component of the Back on Track program, pay all outstanding fines from your conviction, and sign a lease agreement with an approved ignition interlock service provider. For those who entered a guilty plea within 90 days of the offence date, you can begin the ignition interlock program after serving a three-month driving suspension. If you were convicted after a trial or plead guilty more than 90 days after the offence date, you can only begin the ignition interlock program after six months.

The ignition interlock program will also be costly. There are fees for installing the device, monthly maintenance, and removing the device. The fees will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the service provider you use, and how long you have the device installed in your vehicle.


Your insurance premiums will also skyrocket. With an impaired driving conviction, you can expect to be deemed a “high risk driver.” That will cause significantly increased premiums for a minimum of three years but usually more. The mandatory driving prohibition you receive with a conviction will also increase your rates. If you are caught driving without insurance, you will be liable for a minimum fine of $5000.

Impaired Driving Lawyer

While it may seem easier to “get it over with” and enter a guilty plea to impaired driving, there are many unforeseen costs associated with that choice. Impaired driving is a very technical area of law that often intersects with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If you have been charged with impaired driving, give Drexler Law a call at (519) 804-1799 or inquire by email for a free 30 minute consultation.