Your Greater Toronto Area defence lawyer will tell you that a conviction for DUI results in severe penalties that will negatively impact your life. Under Canada’s Criminal Code, impaired driving is a criminal offence that carries the stigma of a criminal record upon conviction. This alone represents a harsh punishment, given its potential effect on your employment, education, travel, and reputation. But a first-time conviction for DUI also results in mandatory minimum penalties such as:
- One-year license suspension.
- Medical evaluation to determine your fitness to drive.
- $1,000 fine (and assorted fees).
- Enrollment in Ontario’s “Back on Track” education/treatment program before license reinstatement.
- One-year ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement.
If your DUI charges involve any number of mitigating circumstances—such as being involved in an accident, having an excessive blood alcohol concentration, driving with minors in the vehicle, etc.—the penalties are even harsher and could include jail time. You can expect harsher penalties, as well, if you are a repeat offender. Know also that the punishment extends beyond the court’s decrees.
That DUI Conviction Will Continue to Bite You
During an initial consultation, your Ontario DUI lawyer may forget to tell you that a DUI conviction is like the unwanted gift that keeps giving or the dog that keeps biting. That’s because even after you’ve paid your dues for the crime and completed related mandates, you’re going to face further punishment from insurance companies.
In fact, because of your DUI, your insurance company probably cancelled or opted not to renew your policy soon after your conviction. And, yes, they can legally do that under Ontario insurance laws based on the DUI representing a material change of your risk profile. Because of that DUI, you are now classified as a “high-risk driver,” a classification that insurance companies can legally deny covering.
Oh, and if your DUI arrest occurred due to an accident you caused, good luck collecting compensation for any damages you suffered. Insurance companies can legally deny damage claims based on attributing the cause of the accident to your level of impairment. Ontario insurance laws specifically allow insurers to deny claims when the insured driver is convicted of any impaired driving offence, including refusing a breathalyzer test.
You Will Still Be Able to Get Auto Insurance Coverage, But….
Ontario insurance laws allow insurers to cancel auto insurance coverage of high-risk drivers, but the insurance industry as a whole cannot deny selling such drivers basic insurance coverage. Thus, the province’s insurance companies belong to what’s known as the Facility Association, which is an insurance pool that serves as an insurer of last resort to provide auto insurance to high-risk drivers. Additionally, several insurance companies specialize in insuring high-risk drivers.
So, yes, you will be able to get auto insurance after a DUI conviction, but it will cost you. With many factors—type of vehicle, driving usage, other moving violations, postal code, etc.—used by insurers to calculate insurance premiums, it’s difficult to say how much your insurance premiums might rise post-DUI. Various estimates suggest that your annual premiums could increase by between $2,000 to $10,000. And you thought the court-ordered fine was terrible!
You will feel the pain of that insurance increase for at least three years, but likely for much longer. While the DUI will be removed from your motor vehicle record three years after the date of conviction, the insurers can maintain high-risk driver rates for up to six years. Perhaps the best means for reducing the potential insurance expenses that result from a DUI conviction is to purchase and drive the least expensive vehicle possible. Absent that, or not driving at all, there is not much you can do to avoid this supplementary penalty Ontario drivers receive because of a DUI conviction.
How to Get Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
No matter your insurance status prior to your DUI, finding a new insurer after your license reinstatement will likely present some challenges. When your auto insurance is cancelled or subject to non-renewal due to a DUI, you will need to secure high-risk auto insurance from one of the five or so Ontario insurers who offer it, or from the previously mentioned Facility Association. You cannot contact potential high-risk insurers directly but must use the services of a licensed Insurance Broker of Ontario.
These brokers earn a fee for connecting high-risk drivers with high-risk insurers, so it pays to shop around for high-risk insurance quotes. As “the insurer of last resort to provide coverage when no other option is available,” the Facility Association might not be able to offer you the best rates. That is, unless you are a repeat DUI offender with numerous other moving violations.
No matter which high-risk insurance company you end up with as your insurer, you should shop around for better rates in subsequent years. This holds especially true if you have maintained a safe driving record for three years after your DUI conviction. At this point, you may be able to get lower-priced insurance from a regular insurance company or, at the least, a better rate from high-risk insurers.
Consult with Mass Tsang for the Best In GTA DUI Defence
The best means of avoiding high-risk insurance rates that come with a DUI conviction is not to drive while impaired. Absent that, you should contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer skilled at winning DUI cases. Mass Tsang has successfully defended 1,000s of DUI defendants in the Greater Toronto Area by helping those charged with DUI win their case or otherwise secure a favourable outcome. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI-related offence, contact the experienced criminal defence lawyers at Mass Tsang today for a free consultation.