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New zero alcohol limit for drivers under 21

September 16, 2010

Both new and experienced drivers know they should never drink and drive, and if they make this choice, they will be subject to severe consequences. This month, many young drivers are back in class and the new school season means many social events — from parties to pub nights, sporting events and other activities. All too often, alcohol is a part of these gatherings. If you are a young driver you need to be aware — and be responsible — as the penalties for drinking and driving have become even more stringent for younger and novice drivers.

As of August 1, 2010, a new legislation introduced in Ontario stipulates that if you are a driver 21 years of age or under, you must have a zero blood alcohol level when you get behind the wheel. Penalties for being caught with any amount of alcohol in your blood include:

  • An immediate 24 hour licence suspension
  • A further 30-day licence suspension if you are convicted
  • Up to $500 in fines

If you are a novice driver of any age in the Graduated Licensing System, a two-step licensing process that takes up to 20 months to complete, you are already required to maintain a zero blood alcohol level while driving. With this new legislation you will face even tougher penalties if you violate the conditions of your licence or if you are convicted of any Highway Traffic Act offences that carry four or more demerit points. Penalties include:

  • 30-day licence suspension for the first instance
  • 90-day licence suspension for the second instance
  • Novice licence cancellation for the third instance, and you must reapply for the graduated licensing program

But the fines and licence suspension are not all — your insurance rates will also increase. If you are a novice driver or a fully licensed driver under the age of 21, with a suspension or cancellation on record, your insurance company can increase your rate based on the fact that you have not been continuously insured. You may also lose any rate credits or deductions you received for having taken a driver’s training course.

According to the MTO website “Ontario research shows that new teenage drivers are almost three times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious collision when they are carrying teenage passengers.” The good news is that the Graduated Licensing System has been successful in reducing injury and death in younger drivers.   By adhering to the new legislation and becoming more responsible while behind the wheel, young drivers can further protect themselves and their friends against the unnecessary consequences of drinking and driving.

To find out more about how the new zero-alcohol tolerance legislation can impact your insurance rates you can visit the Province of Ontario websiteand contact your insurance professional. For more information on how to lower your insurance rate, visit InsuranceHotline.com.