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Your Questions about DUIs in Ontario Answered

As specialists in high risk auto insurance here in Ontario, we get a lot of questions around DUIs and what the implications are for insurance coverage. Drivers that get charged with driving under the influence are put in the high risk category for car insurance. Which means that they will pay higher rates and suffer other consequences of their poor decision to get behind the wheel in an intoxicated state.

In this post, we’re going to cover some of the most common queries and concerns we get around DUIs. Let’s dive in!

DUI Basics

What does DUI mean?

DUI stands for driving under the influence. This could be for driving with alcohol in your system or for using other recreational substances or drugs before getting behind the wheel. This is also often referred to as impaired driving.

What is considered impaired driving in Ontario?

When it comes to impaired driving in Ontario, you can face charges if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher. Impaired driving is a criminal offence in Canada. There is any a “warn range” of 0.05 and 0.079 blood alcohol concentration, and you can also face charges if you fall into this range. Learn more here. It’s important to note that you can be charged with impaired driving if your ability to drive has been affected in ANY way – it is not just about how much you consumed or what the breathalyzer says.

How does age and driving experience factor into DUIs?

In Ontario we have something called a zero tolerance law for anyone who is a young driver or a new driver. This means that absolutely NO alcohol in the system is tolerated. This applies to anyone who is under 21 years old, or anyone who holds a G1 or G2 licence.

How about DUIs and commercial vehicles?

Ontario’s zero tolerance law also applies to anyone driving a commercial vehicle – you cannot have any alcohol in your system, period.

What are the penalties for being caught driving under the influence?

Penalties for DUIs vary depending on whether you are in the warn range or whether you are in the impairment range. It also depends on whether this is your first offence, or if you have been penalized before. For the full breakdown of penalties, including those for young drivers and commercial drivers, go to the Government of Ontario’s detailed information page here.

Implications for auto insurance when you have a DUI

What does it mean to be a high risk driver?

Being a high risk driver means that the insurance companies see you as presenting some sort of risk – they see you as being more likely to have an auto insurance claim which means that they will charge you higher insurance rates. There are various factors that can place you in the category of a high risk driver, a DUI being one of the major ones. Other reasons include having a poor driving record (such as having traffic violations or at fault accidents on your record), being a young driver or being a new driver. Check out this post for a definition of a high risk driver.

How much more auto insurance will I pay?

The effect of a DUI on your rates will depend on the severity of the infraction, as well as what your driving history looks like. It will also depend on the policy of your insurance company around DUIs. You can at the very least expect your auto insurance rates to double, if not increase by 3-5 times.

How long will the DUI stay on my record?

In Ontario, tickets and infractions remain on your driver’s record for three years and the same goes for a DUI. If your licence was suspended, this will stay on your record for six years. As with everything insurance related, the effect on your auto insurance rates depends on your specific provider, so make sure you understand their particular policies around DUIs and high risk drivers.

When will my auto insurance rates go back to what they were before the DUI?

Using the general timelines suggested in the question above, and assuming that you maintain a perfect driving record during this time, your rates should go back to normal levels once the DUI is off your record.

Are there any other effects on my insurance coverage with a DUI?

For one, your insurer could deny your auto insurance claim if you are convicted of impaired driving – Ontario insurance laws allow them to do so. Your current provider could also deny you coverage, period. As we’ve discussed here many times on the blog, some insurance companies choose not to provide coverage for drivers they deem to be too high risk. Your provider could make that decision if you are convicted of a DUI. In Ontario you cannot be denied auto insurance coverage, but you may be forced into the residual market for insurance which is much, much more expensive than standard auto insurance rates. Learn more about that here.


Looking for more information? Check out this very comprehensive resource from the Government of Ontario – Impaired driving

You can also check out these resources from the blog:

Have you been charged with a DUI and now are dealing with high risk auto insurance? Be sure to check out our post that covers some of the most common questions we get about being a high risk driver.

Reach out to someone from our team to learn more about insurance coverage with a DUI or click here to get an online quote for high risk auto insurance.

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This post is intended to provide general information for educational purposes only and is not meant to cover all terms, conditions and exclusions that are found in different insurance policies or government policies. If there is any inconsistency between this information and the definitions in your policy, it is your policy that governs. The use of the information in this post is at your discretion.

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