Some people in Ontario have the wrong idea about ignition interlock devices –car breathalyzers which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. They think the device is preventing them from driving as they want to.
The reality is, the Ontario ignition interlock program is an enabling device: it restores the freedom to drive for those who would otherwise be denied it for an Ontario impaired driving offence.
Still, some people opt not to have the devices installed after a DUI. Either they wish to avoid the expense, or they feel they can do without a vehicle for a while. It’s their choice.
But is it an advisable one?
First, let’s understand what happens if you decide not to have the interlock.
- You will have your licence suspended for 1 year. You may not operate any kind of motor vehicle during that time.
- You will have to wait an additional year for the ignition interlock requirement to expire. That’s another year of no driving.
You will still have to complete Ontario’s remedial measures program, Back on Track, which evaluates your own relationship to alcohol and helps ensure that you are able to separate drinking and driving. The program includes an assessment, a one-day education workshop, a 2-day treatment workshop, and a follow-up interview. You are required not to use alcohol or drugs within 24 hours of any day on which you have an appointment to appear.
So, what’s the upside of waiting out your Ontario ignition interlock requirement? You do save the fees – about $118 per month plus an installation and removal fee. But the downsides are, for most people, much greater:
- You can’t legally drive anywhere, anytime for two years.
- If you have alcohol issues, you never get a chance to confront them by learning to separate drinking and driving.
If you have a DUI, the most sensible course is to install the interlock and begin to get your life back together. The device will not interfere with your driving provided you stay away from alcohol before you get in your car. An ignition interlock isn’t a setback: it’s a key to freedom, enabling you to drive safely, legally and unimpaired.