The Ontario Provincial Police have begun their annual holiday RIDE campaign to fight impaired driving in the province. Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada, and in addition to serious criminal consequences, impaired drivers that cause accidents may also be facing the cost of personal civil liability.

Insurance coverage and impaired driving

If you, or someone with your permission, drives your vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, this is considered a breach of the terms of your Ontario automobile insurance policy. This means that in the event of any accident, regardless of fault, your insurance company may take the position that they do not have to provide coverage. They may also refuse coverage if the driver is convicted of certain criminal code offenses, including driving a vehicle, or causing injury, when impaired or with more than 80 mg of alcohol in the blood, and refusal to provide the police with a breath sample.

Personal civil liability for impaired driving accidents

If an insurer has taken the position that they do not have to provide coverage due to impaired driving, they may refuse to pay for damage caused to your vehicle and other property, making you personally obligated to cover the cost of any such damage.

More importantly, if you are sued for causing bodily injury or death, an insurer that has taken an “off-coverage” position is only obligated to cover the first $200,000 of damages in a third party claim. This leaves an impaired driver personally responsible for paying any amounts in excess of this.

Although $200,000 seems like a lot of money, third party damages for serious personal injuries can surpass half a million dollars. Where there are multiple injured claimants, awards may be even higher; this is why most drivers are advised to purchase at least one million dollars of third party liability coverage. Being personally responsible for these losses can cause financial ruin, and the seizure and sale of your property and other assets.

Knowledgeable insurance coverage lawyers in Toronto

Although an insurer is legally entitled to deny coverage to an impaired driver, they do not always do so. If you have been involved in an accident while impaired, and your insurer has denied coverage, an experienced insurance lawyer can explain your rights, and the potential repercussions. At Jasmine Daya & Co., we advise clients facing denied insurance coverage for many reasons, and have over 40 years of combined experience handling insurance disputes. We give free consultations for all new clients. To discuss an insurance coverage or personal injury matter with one of our lawyers, contact us online, or by calling 416-967-9100.