Driver’s licence laws
The demerit-point system
The demerit-point system encourages drivers to improve their behaviour and protects people from drivers who abuse the privilege of driving. Drivers convicted of driving-related offences have demerit points recorded on their records. Demerit points stay on your record for two years from the date of the offence. If you accumulate too many demerit points, your driver’s licence can be suspended.
Note: Class B and E licence holders may have no more than eight demerit points. A class B/E licence holder who exceeds eight demerit points will be automatically downgraded to the next-highest class for which they are eligible (for example, usually class C or F until their demerit points fall below eight).
Other ways to lose your licence
Your licence may also be suspended for the following reasons:
By law, all doctors must report the names and addresses of everyone 16 years or older who has any condition that may affect their ability to drive safely (for example, a stroke, heart condition or dizziness). Doctors report this information to the Ministry of Transportation, and it is not given to anyone else. Your driver’s licence may be suspended until new medical evidence shows that the condition does not pose a safety risk.
Zero tolerance for commercial drivers
Drivers of commercial vehicles must not have any presence of alcohol and/or a drug in their system when driving a commercial vehicle. If a commercial driver has alcohol or a drug in their system, they will face serious penalties, including licence suspensions and administrative monetary penalties.
Commercial vehicle drivers (classes A to F) have a zero-tolerance sanction for drugs and alcohol impairment when behind the wheel of these types of vehicles:
- Those that require a class A-F licence
- One requiring a Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR)
- Road-building machine.
If police determine that you have the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system and/or that you are impaired by any substance including illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences, including potential criminal charges and jail time.
Driving when your ability is impaired by alcohol or a drug, is a crime in Canada. Your vehicle does not even have to be moving; you can be charged if you are impaired behind the wheel, even if you have not started to drive. In circumstances involving possible impairment by a drug or a combination of alcohol and a drug, police can require a driver to:
- provide breath samples
- perform standardized field sobriety tests
- conduct a drug recognition evaluation
- provide oral fluid urine, or blood samples for screening
If you fail or refuse to comply with any of these demands, you will be charged under the Criminal Code.
If you are 21 years of age and under, you must not drive if you have been drinking alcohol. Your blood alcohol level must be zero.
For more information on impaired driving measures in Ontario, please visit the Ministry of Transportation website.
The police can stop any driver to determine if alcohol or drug testing is required. They may also do roadside spot checks. When stopped by the police, you may be told to blow into a machine that tests your breath for alcohol, a roadside screening device, or perform physical co-ordination tests. If you fail, are unable or refuse to provide a breath sample or to perform the physical co-ordination tests, you will be charged under the Criminal Code.
If you cannot give a breath sample or it is impractical to obtain a sample of breath, the police officer can require you to provide a blood sample instead.
The police can stop any driver to determine if drug testing is required. Criminal Code and Highway Traffic Act (HTA) sanctions apply to drivers impaired by alcohol or a drug.
Drugs in all forms, including cannabis, illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, can have dangerous effects:
- If you use prescription medicines or get allergy shots, ask your doctor about side effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, nausea or drowsiness that could affect your driving.
- Read the information on the package of any over-the-counter medicine you take. Any stimulant, diet pill, tranquillizer or sedative may affect your driving. Even allergy and cold remedies may have ingredients that could affect your driving.
- Drugs and alcohol together can have dangerous effects, even several days after you have taken the drug.
Do not take a chance; ask your doctor or pharmacist before you drive.