Ontario: New liquor rules won’t affect insurance

New drinking and driving rules that hit the road yesterday may cost you your licence for a few days, but this piece of get-tough legislation won’t hike up your Ontario auto insurance.

According to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, a government body that oversees policy involving insurance providers, a suspension that is less than a year and without a conviction cannot be used as part of an insurance company’s risk classification system.
Under the new legislation, if cops find you with a blood-alcohol concentration between .05 and .08 — the “warn range” — your driver’s licence will be revoked for three days. Notice of the suspension will be stamped on your driver abstract, a public document often used for insurance assessments.
Hit that warn range again and you will lose your licence for seven days and be forced to attend an alcohol education program.

Third time you’re caught will mean a 30-day suspension, a remedial alcohol treatment program and a car that won’t start unless you blow .02 or less into an ignition interlock device.

But because no part of this process involves the courts, and because the suspensions are less than a year, insurance providers don’t have liberty to hit you where it hurts.
It’s called an Administrative Driver’s Licence Suspension and it falls under a government policy aimed at non-renewal or expiry of a driver’s licence for reasons such as consumer oversight, temporary medical conditions and unpaid parking tickets.

“The new policy is to ensure that future rating of short-term administrative lapse or suspension of a driver’s licence is supported by actuarial evidence,” a 2006 financial services commission bulletin reads.

Brian Lawrie, founder of Provincial Offences Information and Traffic Ticket Service (POINTTS), said he thought the new legislation would cost drivers anywhere from a 50% to 300% increase in insurance premiums — numbers often seen with impaired driving convictions.