You’ve just been convicted for your first alcohol-related driving offence. That means your driver’s licence will be suspended for at least one year. During that time, you are not allowed to drive, a situation that is bound to cause disruption in your life.
There is one possibility that might help you get back behind the wheel much sooner: an ignition interlock. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
Ontario has a program, called the Reduced Suspension with Ignition Interlock Conduct Review Program, which lets certain drivers convicted of DUI drive under suspension, provided they install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. There are other requirements as well:
- You must not have been impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol at your arrest
- You must not have caused bodily harm or death during your offence
- You must not have been driving while disqualified at the time of your offence
- You must not have been required to have an ignition interlock in your vehicle already, or have had a previous indefinite suspension which was reduced to 10 years, or have any active suspensions on your record
- You must pay all outstanding fees
If you are eligible for the program, the Ministry of Transportation will send you a packet with an application for the program and information on how long you can expect to be in it. Then you will need to contact an ignition interlock provider and have the device installed.
Once you have your interlock, you can expect that your life will return to normal and you can drive to work, or school, or perform other errands. The only thing that will change is you must blow into the interlock device before starting your vehicle, and again at regular intervals. You will also have to bring the device in for monitoring on a regular basis.
Impaired driving is a mistake, but a DUI conviction is not the end of the world. If you enter an ignition interlock program, it’s not even the end of driving. All you need to do is use the device and never drink and drive. All in all, not a bad trade-off: your life can get back to normal, and the roads stay safe for everyone.