Romanov Report 48 - Sept 16, 2006

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Cost of Drinking & Driving

Lose your licence, car, job, or life. Drunk drivers injure 190 Canadians, killing 4 daily, and impacting the lives of 70,000 annually,

If you're convicted of being impaired, your insurance won't cover damage to your car and most injuries.

This Romanov Report tells the horrors of a DUI from the:

Insurance Ramifications For a DUI

A DUI is a Criminal Code conviction which stays on your record for 3 years, from the date you were convicted, and seriously affects your insurance rates.

You also receive an automatic licence suspension which keeps the good insurance rates away for 6 years.

Even if you win your court case and the DUI is thrown out, the 90 day licence suspension stays on your record and continues to negatively affect your insurance rate by thousands of dollars.

Here are the lowest to highest insurance rates for a 19 year old and 40 year old, for a DUI conviction, and the rates if they also had an accident.

Age Driving Reord Lowest Highest 19 Year Old Impaired Conviction & Licence Suspension $12,455 $16,572 19 Year Old Accident & Impaired Conviction & Licence Suspension $15,749 $20,070 40 Year Old Impaired Conviction & Licence Suspension $7,430 $8,304 40 Year Old Accident & Impaired Conviction & Licence Suspension $8,463 $11,728

The Police Reports

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers:

Q. If you're pulled over and asked if you've had a drink, are the police obligated to test your blood alcohol?

A. No. The police aren't obligated to test you if you don't appear to be impaired.

Q. What are the "blood alcohol limits" that you should know about?

A. If you blow a 0.08 or refuse a breathalyzer test, you get an automatic 90 day licence suspension.

If your blood alcohol concentration is between 0.05 and 0.08 you will lose your for licence for 12 hours. You're not charged, and that suspension isn't recorded on your record.

Q. How does the breathalyzer machine work?

A. A breath sample is bubbled through a liquid solution inside the device. The alcohol from your breath reacts with the potassium dichromate inside the breathalyzer. This results in a change of the liquid's colour from red-orange to green. The reacted solution is compared inside the device to a vial of non-reacted solution by a photocell. This creates an electric current proportional to the degree of the colour change. This current moves the needle that indicates the "blood alcohol content".

Q. Do they take away your car, and if so, for how long?

A. The car is taken away most times because the police don't want to leave it on the highway, at the side of the road. It can be released immediately to another licensed driver.

Q. How much does it cost to get it back?

A. The driver would have to pay a tow fee to the car lot, and whatever storage costs may have been incurred during the time it was left there. It could be a couple hundred dollars.

Q. Can your passenger drive your car home if you're stopped as a drunk driver?

A. Your sober friend should have been driving to begin with. As long as they're not impaired they can drive your car.

Q. What happens to you if you're arrested for DUI?

A. The police have to do the first breath test within 2 hours of the offence, either on the spot or back at the police station. You could be released right after the breath test, and as long as the police feel you'll show up for court, you're released until you can be formally charged in front of a justice, usually the next day.

Q. Is there a set bail, and if so, how much?

A. If the person isn't from the area or has previous convictions, they can be held on bail. The amount of bail varies greatly, but is often between $300 and $400. When your case is finally over, you get this money back.

Q. If I'm released from jail can I drive my car the next day?

A. You won't be able to drive for 90 days because of the automatic "Administrative Suspension" for people who blow a 0.08 or refuse the breathalyzer test.

Q. What happens to you and your insurance rates if you get pulled over for driving under the influence of alcohol?

A. An automatic "Administrative Suspension" goes on your driving record and stays there for 3 years, from the time of the offence, but your insurance rate will stay high for 6 years.

Court Appearances

Q. Do I have to go to court?

A. You go to court at least twice.

The first time, you'll be charged with the offence. This usually happens the next court business day after the offence. Your licence is returned after 90 days and then you can drive, but the whole court process could drag on for over two years.

Q. If you are acquitted, does the administrative licence suspension of 90 days remain on your record?

A. Yes. This licence suspension remains on your provincial driving record for 3 years from the time of the offence. And your insurance rates will be affected for 6 years.

Q. What happens if you are convicted?

A.First Conviction: Minimum $600 fine, 12 months driving prohibition, 12 months licence suspension followed by 12 months of driving with an Ignition Interlock device.

Second Conviction: Minimum 14 days in jail, 2 year driving prohibition, 3 year licence suspension, followed by 2 years of driving with an Ignition Interlock device.

Third or Subsequent Conviction: Minimum 90 days in jail, 3 year driving prohibition, lifetime licence suspension, however you can apply for reinstatement after 10 years.

Any suspensions you get if you're convicted stay on your driving record for 3 years from the time of conviction. And your insurance rates will stay high for 6 years.


Back on Track Program: If you have been convicted of impaired driving you're required by the Highway Traffic Act to take the "Back on Track Program". The cost is $475, plus GST and it must be completed while your licence is under suspension, or else your licence suspension will be extended.

Ignition Interlock: The "Ignition Interlock Program" prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol concentration over a pre-set limit.

Breath samples are then required at pre-set intervals while driving. If not provided or if you exceed the limit, the device will issue a warning, record the event and activate specific alarm systems such as flashing lights, honking horn until the ignition is turned off.

The Interlock System costs $125 to install, then $95 per month for monitoring and recalibration and $5 per month for insurance and finally $25 for removal. The total cost of $1,350 for one year, before tax.

Driver's Licence: Reinstatement fee is $150.

Criminal Code Conviction: Fine is $600.