Author: Bruce Parsons
Date Posted: August 23 2014

This article was originally posted in 2010

As of December 1st 2010, the Ontario Government and the Ministry of Transportation have implemented another part of the Road Safety Act, 2009. This part of the Road Safety Act, has to do with the impounding of vehicles which are being driven by suspended drivers.

In short this portion of the Act gives the officer the authority to impound the vehicle on the spot if the driver is:

  • Driving over the legal limit (.08) or failing and/or refusing to provide a breath sample
  • Unpaid Family Support- Highway Traffic Act Suspension
  • Driving without an Ignition Interlock Device when one is required
  • Or if your license is suspended for Highway Traffic Offenses such as:
  • Demerit Point suspensions
  • Careless Driving, Stunt Driving, Driving while suspended

Editors note- We can now add in Cell phone (distracted driving)

A notable exception is that defaulted fines resulting in suspension will not lead to the impounding of a vehicle.

The impounding lasts for various time periods, 3 Days for cell phone charges for example or 7 days for stunt driving and is not appealable.  This is part of the government’s policy that you are responsible for knowing the status of who is driving the car along with promoting their phone and internet ways to check the status of a driver’s license. The exception to this is that if a Police Officer may direct the release of the impounded motor vehicle before the 7 days are up if they believe the car was stolen at the time of it being driven.

In all cases, the owner of the car is responsible for paying the fees related the towing and storing of the car before it is released to them. The owner may attempt to recover the costs from the Driver via a court action if the Driver is not willing to pay for this. Exact methods of how impounding are handled for these vary on location as they are the responsibility of the police and not the Ministry of Transportation for 7 day suspensions (including Stunt Driving suspensions).

Large Commercial Vehicles (Those weighing over 3000 kilograms) are offered an alternative program. This alternative says that as long as the driver has not been suspended for 100 or more days, the vehicle will not be impounded, for Highway Traffic Act suspensions.  This does not apply for suspensions of over 100 days, having a blood alcohol level of over .08 or lacking an ignition interlock device when one is required. In any circumstance the driver still faces all penalties for Driving Under Suspension and any other applicable charges and is not allowed to continue the trip.

The reasoning given for this is that 100 days is enough for business’ to conduct quarterly license reviews, the higher costs of towing a larger vehicle (estimated at 1200 to 1500 by the ministry), the number of passengers a bus may have, the issue with having trailers stranded and needing a new driver and vehicle to continue the trip.  For those who do not meet the alternative programs restrictions, the vehicle will be impounded.

The Ministry of Transportation announcement can be read at:

http://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2010/12/end-of-the-road-for-suspended-and-impaired-drivers.html.

P.S. A conviction for Driving Under Suspension carries a minimum fine of $1000 (in addition to substantial surcharges) for a first offence, and up to 6 months in jail. We strongly recommend any individual charged with Driving while Driver’s Licence Suspended, seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity and not drive any more!

P.P.S. To find out if a person is suspended or not the MTO provides some tools:

– First you can call 1-900-565-6555 with the driver’s license and check. A charge of $2.50 will be added to your phone bill.

– Second you can check online at the MTO Website at $2.00 payable by credit card

– Last you can order a driver’s abstract either online or at a service ontario centre, though that option is normally only available for yourself.

Read more about Drive Abstracts on the MTO Site here.

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