Uncovering New DUI Laws in Toronto: Exploring the 2018 Amendments and Their Implications

Toronto, like other cities in Canada, is committed to maintaining road safety and reducing the prevalence of impaired driving. This commitment was further cemented in 2018 when the province of Ontario introduced a significant overhaul to its existing DUI laws, aimed at amending the criminal code and tightening penalties for impaired driving offenders. Understanding the nuances of these amendments and their potential implications is essential for drivers, ensuring compliance with these updated regulations and minimizing the risk of negative consequences. In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the changes brought about by the 2018 amendments and examine the importance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer in navigating the intricacies of the altered legal landscape surrounding DUI offences in Toronto.

The 2018 amendments aimed to strengthen the impaired driving legislation in Ontario, placing greater emphasis on combating alcohol and drug-impaired driving. With marijuana legalization coinciding with these updates, both drivers and legal practitioners must be familiar with the implications of these revised laws to ensure that the rights and interests of those facing impaired driving charges are protected.

In the subsequent sections, we will delve deeper into the elements of the 2018 amendments, including changes to blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits, drug-impaired driving regulations, and the penalties associated with various impaired driving offences. Additionally, we will explore the crucial role of a knowledgeable DUI defence lawyer in helping clients navigate the ramifications of these amendments, providing informed guidance, effective legal representation, and robust defence strategies in the face of the updated impaired driving regulations. Stay tuned to learn more about the key changes in Toronto’s DUI laws and how these amendments may affect you.

A Closer Look at the 2018 Amendments

The 2018 amendments to Ontario’s impaired driving laws have introduced several significant changes, which can be broadly categorized into three areas:

  1. Alcohol-Impaired Driving: The amendments have brought about stricter penalties and adjustments to the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for various driving categories, including the introduction of the “warn range” for drivers with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08.
  2. Drug-Impaired Driving: With the legalization of marijuana in Canada, the 2018 amendments have also introduced specific provisions for drug-impaired driving, including penalties for drivers impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol.
  3. Enhanced Penalties: The updated laws have increased the consequences and penalties for repeat impaired driving offenders and first-time offenders with high BAC levels, sending a clear message that impaired driving will not be tolerated in Toronto.

Changes to Alcohol-Impaired Driving Regulations

The 2018 amendments have revised the BAC limits and corresponding penalties for drivers in Toronto:

  1. Zero BAC for Novice and Young Drivers: Drivers under the age of 21 or those holding learner’s permits (G1 or G2 licenses) are now required to maintain a zero BAC at all times while operating a motor vehicle.
  2. Updated Warn Range Penalties: The legislative changes have introduced the “warn range” concept for drivers who have a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08. Penalties within this range include immediate roadside license suspensions ranging from 3 to 30 days, depending on the frequency of the offence.
  3. Increased Penalties for High BAC Offenders: The amendments have established increased penalties for drivers found to have a BAC above 0.08 or who refuse to provide a breath sample. Consequences include the potential for vehicle impoundment, a license suspension of up to 90 days, and participation in the Ignition Interlock Program.

Drug-Impaired Driving Regulations

The 2018 amendments also outline specific provisions for drug-impaired driving offences, primarily focusing on THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana:

  1. Zero Tolerance for Novice and Young Drivers: Similar to the alcohol-impaired driving rules, novice drivers and those under the age of 21 are required to maintain a zero THC level while driving.
  2. THC Limits and Penalties: The legislative changes have established two categories for THC levels in drivers – between 2 nanograms (ng) and less than 5 ng per millilitre of blood, and 5 ng or more per millilitre of blood. Penalties vary based on the level of THC detected and can result in fines, loss of driver’s license, or even imprisonment for more severe cases.
  3. Combined Alcohol and Drug Impairment: For drivers found to have both alcohol and THC in their system, the penalties are more severe. A BAC over 0.05 combined with a THC level of 2.5 ng or more per millilitre of blood can result in a fine of up to $1,000, a one-year license suspension, and participation in the Ignition Interlock Program for first-time offenders.

The Importance of a Skilled DUI Defence Lawyer

Given the complexities introduced by the 2018 amendments, enlisting the expertise of an experienced criminal defence lawyer specializing in DUI cases is essential in appropriately addressing impaired driving charges:

  1. Thorough Case Evaluation: A trusted DUI lawyer will meticulously assess your case, identifying any shortcomings in the evidence or investigative procedures that could strengthen your defence efforts.
  2. Professional Representation: An adept attorney can guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights and interests are protected, and developing a sound defence strategy tailored to the unique circumstances of your case.
  3. Negotiation and Advocacy: A capable DUI defence lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution for reduced charges or penalties and vigorously advocate for your rights in court, whether during a trial or at sentencing hearings.


The 2018 amendments to Toronto’s DUI laws have introduced considerable changes, affecting both alcohol and drug-impaired driving offences. Staying informed about these updates is crucial for all drivers to ensure compliance and minimize the risk of facing severe penalties. Additionally, securing the support of an experienced criminal defence lawyer is vital in navigating the complexities of the updated regulations and effectively addressing any DUI charges arising from these legislative changes. The dedicated team at Calvin Barry Professional Corporation is well-versed in the nuances of Toronto’s impaired driving laws and stands ready to provide expert legal representation to clients facing DUI-related charges. Contact us today to discuss your case and secure the guidance and advocacy necessary to protect your rights and future.

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