Graduated Licensing, Impaired Driving and Personal Liability


Last week, we discussed the possible civil liability implications if a person causes a motor vehicle accident and they found to be impaired by drugs or alcohol. This post looks at the consequences of driving while impaired for young drivers, and anyone holding a G1 or G2 license, who face potential personal liability if they cause an accident.

Ontario’s strict impaired driving rules for young and inexperienced drivers

Younger drivers, and those who have only recently learned to drive and received a license, have less experience on the roads. The law therefore holds these drivers to a more restrictive set of rules than someone with a G license. While the latter may operate a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of up to .05, young and G1/G2 drivers must have a BAC of zero.

In addition to the same criminal code sanctions for having a BAC above .08, this zero tolerance policy for inexperienced drivers calls for an immediate 24-hour license suspension, and potential 30-day suspension with a $500 fine if convicted.

Personal civil liability after an impaired driving accident

For young drivers and graduated license holders, having a BAC over zero is a breach of their motor vehicle insurance policy, and will jeopardize their coverage in the event of an accident. Most insurance policies also include coverage for damage to the vehicle and other property in the event of an accident. However, if a driver was impaired, they may be denied this coverage, and instead be personally liable to pay for property damage.

An impaired driver may be sued for any personal injuries caused by an accident. While this claim would ordinarily be covered by their third party liability policy, the insurer may refuse coverage when the insured broke the zero-tolerance laws, and limit their total third party coverage to $200,000. In serious accidents, or where there are multiple injuries, claims can easily exceed this limit, and any damages assessed above this amount will be personally owed by the impaired driver. To pay these, they may be forced to sell any property or other assets, and their future wages may be garnished.

Experienced insurance lawyers assisting with disputes over coverage

If you are a young driver, or hold a graduated license, and have been involved in an accident while impaired, your first step should be speaking to an insurance lawyer about your legal rights. At Jasmine Daya & Co., we have over 40 years of combined experience handling insurance disputes, and help clients that have been denied coverage after a motor vehicle accidents. If you have been denied coverage for any reason, or have questions about an insurance dispute, schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers online, or call 416-967-9100.