Impaired / refusal and the Interlock Program
Updated: Jun 15
Often, people are charged with driving impaired and / or for refusing to provide a breathalyzer.
There is an automatic driving prohibition of at least one year against such accused. However, the Government of Ontario has recognized the importance of punishing behaviour of driving while impaired vs. the public good vs. the need to give such accused a second chance. So, the Government has a program called interlock program by which an accused charged with impaired / over 80 can avail of this program so long as the following mandatory conditions are fulfilled:
The accused pleads guilty to the charge within 90 days of the offence occurring.
This 90 day clock is the ONLY limitation period imposed by the criminal code / MTO to be eligible for driving within 3 month of conviction of the offence of impaired / refusal.
This interlock program is called as the STREAM A (within 90 days) or STREAM B (within 180 days). The Crown almost always consents to one of these streams. Then, upon conviction, the interlock program provides that the Ministry of Transportation permits that a device be inserted onto the steering wheel three months later (from date of conviction) permitting the accused to drive the vehicle.
Now, let us examine some critical questions and different situations (the above is straight-forward):
1. What happens if an accused is charged with more serious offences (for example, in addition to refusal, other charges such as mischief, and resisting arrest?
2. What happens if an accused comes to the lawyer a month after the offence? = meaning that only 2 months are remaining out of the 90 day clock to be eligible for STREAM A.
In the straight forward example of the accused being charged with ONLY refusal / impaired, the answer was easy - the Crown almost always consents.
However, for situation 1 question given above, the Crown DOES NOT have to consent, especially if the Crown decides that the charges are serious. Normally, the Crown would note on the screening form that they are consenting to STREAM A. But, in the case of multiple or more serious charges, the Crown does not have to consent. If the Crown does not consent, then, the Court will expressly state that the accused is not eligible for STREAM A and such a person can avail of it.
In the case of situation 1, the lawyer will have to enter into a Crown meeting with the Crown to persuade the Crown to permit Stream A - it is not automatic and the lawyer may not be successful. The example of resisting arrest is very serious - the Crown wants to prevent such behaviour from recurring. That is the reason they want to punish the accused and not agree automatically to STREAM A. So, the lawyer has to given really good reasoning to the Crown to make an exception.
In the case of situation 2, the lawyer will make it clear to the client that the 90 day clock is ticking - only the client is to blame for coming to the lawyer late. This is because the lawyer only has less than 2 months to fix a meeting with the Crown to negotiate a consent to permit STREAM A. Obtaining a Crown meeting takes several weeks in most jurisdictions. So, it is critical for an accused to come early and on time to the lawyer.
At ShankarLaw, we are happy to assist and guide you through whatever challenges you have in your life, on family, criminal and civillitigation issues. We will advice you on timelines, your options and will work with you to resolve issues successfully. We work in three counties: Huron, Bruce, and Grey and span several cities (Southampton, Kincardine, Goderich, Wiarton, Hanover, Dundalk, Walkerton, Meaford, Markdale, Chatsworth), through our two locations in PortElgin and in OwenSound.