July 2010-Starting August 3rd, 2010 the Ontario Government has made some changes which bring Ontario more in line with the way impaired driving sentencing is treated in other provinces.
At this time if you are convicted for the first time with impaired driving you automatically loose your licence for a period of one year and after that one year has lapsed you need to install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle you drive for a further year. Your only other option is to not drive for a period of two years before being permitted back on the road without an ignition interlock device.
Starting August 3rd, 2010 new changes will come into effect. At that time if an accused wishes to pled guilty within 90 days of being charged and if he/she has no prior convictions for this type of offence he/she may be eligible to only receive a 90 day licence suspension followed by nine months with an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle. An ignition interlock device is a dashboard mounted mechanism in which the driver must blow into before he/she can start the car. If the mechanism detects a blood alcohol concentration greater than 20 mg it prevents the vehicle from starting.
It should be noted in Ontario if you are charged with impaired driving you loose your license for 90 days automatically at the time of the charge. The 90 days does not count in a future 90 days suspension. Under the new regime upon your plea of guilty if you qualify for this program you would receive a 90 days suspension at that time.
Some drivers even if they are pleading to the first impaired driving offence will not be eligible for this program if the offence results in harm or death; if the impairment is by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, or if they have prior criminal code driving convictions within the past ten years. In addition, the Crown prosecutor may ask that the 90 day suspension be lengthened on a plea if there is a bad record of driving under the Highway Traffic Act, older impaired driving offences, an accident with extensive damage; or other aggravating factors such as speed, racing, failing to remain, children in the vehicle and excessively high blood alcohol readings.
Many other jurisdictions have had this similar policy for years which tends to result in the people who have been charged for the first time dealing with their matters in a much quicker fashion, which in turn saves the accused and tax payer money. The previous system did not in any way encourage pleas of guilty and in fact encouraged the accused to litigate all impaired driving matters.
Perhaps this shift to reasonable sentences from a tough on crime position on sentencing will actually do more good than harm and allow people who did make a mistake to face the consequences without their entire lives and employment being shattered.