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Impact of an Out-of-Province DUI on Ontario License Holders

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As we’ve repeatedly showcased in our Criminal Law Blog, the impacts of an impaired driving arrest and conviction can significantly disrupt one’s life. It’s bad enough getting charged with driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol in our home Greater Toronto Area turf, but have you ever contemplated how a DUI arrest in another province or country might affect you?

DUI arrests tend to sting no matter where you might get one, and the criminal defence DUI lawyers of Toronto’s Mass Tsang will tell you that the best defence is never to drive if you are at all impaired. Should you fail to heed this advice and get arrested for DUI on our home turf, we strongly suggest you contact us for a free consultation. If you are arrested for DUI in another province or country, we cannot defend you in court but can help determine how that out-of-province DUI might impact you in Ontario. Read on to learn more.

The Near-Term Challenges of an Out-of-Province DUI

An out-of-province DUI arrest will likely prove far more challenging than an arrest in your home province. Let’s assume, for example, that you were arrested for DUI while vacationing in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Depending on the Pictou Provincial Court schedule, you may not have a first appearance during the remainder of your vacation. This means a flight (or long drive) back to Nova Scotia and, unless you’re ready to plead guilty, the likely need for one or more return trips.

Not only will this cost you money, but you’ll probably need to take time off work. And, no, skipping court hearings is not a good idea, even if you never plan to set foot in Nova Scotia again. If you fail to appear, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest and may file additional charges that carry up to two years of imprisonment.

The Longer-Term Challenges of an Out-of-Province DUI Conviction

DUI is a federal criminal offence, so no matter where you are arrested in Canada, you are subject to the same Criminal Code Section 320.19 penalties upon conviction. You are also subject to distinct provincial penalties that generally include:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory education and/or alcohol and drug treatment programs
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Ignition interlock requirements
  • Supplemental provincial fines
  • License reinstatement fees

Our distinct provincial DUI penalties can be reviewed on the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s website. The national car-selling network Canada Drives has compiled the full slate of DUI provincial penalties here. However, be advised that the laws are subject to change, so for the most up-to-date information, click on the distinct links that take you to each province’s traffic regulations website.

An out-of-province DUI conviction poses challenges beyond a home-turf conviction because you might be subject to the specific penalties mandated by the arresting province’s laws and those mandated by your resident province. The potential implications depend on each province’s specific DUI laws and how a given province honours court orders handed down by other provinces and territories.

This makes the intersection between the arresting province’s penalties and those of your home province complicated and potentially more painful. For example, depending on the intersecting provinces, you might be ordered to pay the supplemental fines to both the province where you were arrested and to your home province’s court system. Or, even if mandatory participation in an ignition interlock is not a penalty proscribed by the convicting jurisdiction, it might be ordered because it is mandatory in your home province.

To determine how the arresting province’s penalties and those of your home province may intersect, you should consult with an experienced DUI defence lawyer. Your lawyer should be able to figure out how an out-of-province DUI might impact you and strategize a plan to negate or at least mitigate the impacts.

Your Out-of-Province DUI Driver’s License Suspension

While the driver’s license suspension handed down with a DUI conviction is a provincial penalty, as a federal offence, the suspension applies nationwide. Once suspended, driving anywhere in the country is illegal until the suspension term has concluded and you have met all requirements needed for license reinstatement. The convicting court will notify your province’s transportation ministry about the DUI to ensure you follow the license suspension terms.

How Can an Out-of-Country DUI Affect Me?

A DUI arrest and conviction in another country has numerous potential complications beyond the scope of what we can effectively report in any detail in this article. If you are arrested for an out-of-country DUI, we suggest you seek the best local criminal defence lawyer you can find. Every country’s DUI laws and criminal justice systems differ, and you want someone who can help you smoothly navigate through your ordeal with the least impact possible.

In general, a DUI conviction in most countries will not have any impact on you in Canada because relatively few countries — the U.S., U.K., Australia, and several European countries — have reciprocal agreements to share information about driving offences.

In the U.S., reciprocal agreements are between specific states and provinces, and the details of information shared vary widely. Thus, your home province’s transportation ministry may or may not get notified about your U.S. DUI conviction — and sanction you accordingly — depending on where the offence occurred.

Secure a Robust DUI Defence with Mass Tsang

While we do not defend Greater Toronto Area clients arrested for DUIs in other provinces, we can help out-of-province residents arrested in Ontario. With extensive expertise in DUI law and decades of successful DUI defence in the GTA, our lawyers can help you navigate our province’s legal system and strategize a robust DUI defence. We will strive to limit your court appearance time and work on securing a speedy, positive resolution. If you or someone you know is facing an out-of-province DUI or any impaired driving-related legal issues, contact Mass Tsang today.

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