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June 17, 2017

How a DUI affects your auto insurance in Ontario

3 min read


It only takes one poor decision to put you into the market for high risk auto insurance, and if you need insurance in Ontario following a DUI, you’re among tens of thousands of drivers each year searching for information and trying to understand your options moving forward.

So you got a DUI: What happens next?

Stats Canada estimates that around 70,000 Canadian drivers each year find themselves at the wrong end of an impaired driving charge. If you get a (first offense) DUI, you’ll have to pay a fine and potentially attend remedial driving school courses to get your license back, but in the aftermath of a mistake like this, there’s one thing few people consider: car insurance.

To get back on the road, you’re going to need insurance, and unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to pay higher monthly premiums because of your lapse in judgement.

It’s understandable if finding yourself strapped with a DUI throws your near future into uncertainty; there are lots of considerations and decisions that you’ll have to make going forward. Here is a guide to everything you need to know about DUIs, and the process of picking up the pieces after you get charged with one.

What is a DUI and what does it mean for you?

First, what actually constitutes a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge? If a driver is stopped on a roadway and is found to be over the legal limit of alcohol, they are “driving impaired” in the eyes of the law. The legal limit in Ontario is:

  • For drivers under the legal drinking age of 19, the only acceptable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .00.
  • For adults legally able to consume alcohol, a blood alcohol level of .08 or above constitutes a DUI level.

It’s important to note that in Ontario, as well as many other parts of Canada, a BAC of .05 to .08 isn’t entirely legal, per se. This is referred to as the “warn range” and may result in a roadside driver receiving a warning citation or even a suspended license.

DUIs aren’t just limited to alcohol. If drivers are judged to be under the influence of drugs are other impairing substances, officers may be inclined to charge you with impaired driving.

What happens after a DUI?

There are a number of consequences that you’ll have to deal with after a DUI in Ontario, and they vary based on the number of offences you have on your record, and the discretion of the court. Assuming your mistake is a one-time lapse in judgement, the following consequences may be relevant.

  • Mandatory treatment and enrolment in alcohol education programs
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • $1000 fine
  • Potential jail time
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device

The last one means that you’ll have to have a device that measures you BAC installed into your vehicle so that it won’t start unless you prove that you’re under the legal limit.

These consequences are only for the first offence, however, and each additional offence carries harsher punishment. Of course, there is an additional penalty that many people who receive a DUI don’t think of immediately, primarily because it occurs outside of the criminal justice system: your insurer may cancel your insurance, and if not, you’ll be stuck paying higher premiums for years as a “high risk” driver.

Getting affordable insurance after a DUI

Why are people with impaired driving on their records such a high risk in the eyes of many insurance companies? One Canadian insurer points to a statistic that says drivers with a prior DUI on their driving record are up to 30 or 40 percent more likely to get into an accident, meaning that insurers see claims as a likely consequence in your future after driving impaired.

How much will your yearly premiums increase? MADD CEO Andrew Murie estimates that “In Ontario, a typical impaired conviction will move your insurance premiums from around $2,000 to between $8,500 and $10,000 a year – that’s a lot of money.” For many Canadian drivers, this is more than they can afford, so they simply drive without getting new insurance, which often ends up costing more in the long run.

With that said, what can you do?

It’s not fair that one mistake can make car insurance wholly unaffordable. This pool of “high risk” auto insurance markets wrongly homogenise drivers with one or two mistakes on their record in the same group as actual reckless drivers.

Luckily, you have options in terms of shopping for insurance after a DUI, you just may not know how to uncover the plans that will save you money. Mitch is an insurance broker that specializes in high-risk DUI insurance. Let us shop around for car insurance after you make a mistake, and you’ll be able to focus on getting right in the eyes of the law with the kind of peace of mind that comes to trusting your insurance future to the experts.

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