Drinking and driving offences
The Criminal Code addresses drinking and driving with two groups of offences:
- It is an offence for a person to operate or be in care or control of a motor vehicle either while they are impaired by alcohol or while they have a blood-alcohol content of 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. People are often charged both with driving while impaired and with driving “over 80” in the same incident.
- It is also an offence for a person to fail or refuse to provide a breath or blood sample when a peace officer demands a sample at the roadside or at the police station. The penalties for these offences are the same as for the impaired / “over 80” offences.
A conviction for any of these offences can result in serious consequences, including:
- A permanent criminal record.
- A mandatory minimum fine.
- A mandatory driving prohibition.
- A mandatory minimum jail sentence for second, third, or further convictions.
These penalties may in turn result in a loss of employment, restrict your ability to travel to some countries, and lead to a person being labelled as a “High Risk” driver, which results in increased insurance premiums. Given the severe consequences for these types of charges, it is wise to seek legal advice as soon as possible and obtain an opinion before deciding to plead guilty.
Our experienced lawyers will defend your rights and help you get the best possible result for your impaired driving case. We have experience representing clients charged with all of these offences, including the more serious offences resulting in bodily harm or causing death. Should you choose to plead not guilty and go to trial, there are many avenues that our experienced lawyers will explore in order to find the appropriate defence for your case. Initially, we will review all of the prosecution’s evidence against you. From there, we will determine whether there were any violations of your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms during the course of your detention and arrest. Additionally we will explore any technical issues which may affect the evidence, such as problems with the breath machines and compliance with the strict procedures in the Criminal Code.
“Dangerous driving” is a complex offence. It requires the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual drove their vehicle in a manner dangerous given all the circumstances. Additionally, the prosecution must prove that no prudent driver would drive their vehicle in the same manner.
There are a number of ways to defend against the allegation, including: exclusion of compelled accident reports, issue estoppel, challenging the forensic accident reconstructionist’s conclusions, and proving that the driving was caused by a momentary lapse of attention or an error in judgement.
Our lawyers are experienced in defending dangerous driving and dangerous driving causing death charges before judges and juries alike.
Driving while disqualified
A person who is accused of “driving while disqualified” often faces the risk of a jail sentence, even for a first offence. The disqualification can arise either from a driving prohibition following a conviction for a driving offence in the Criminal Code or due to a licence suspension under provincial legislation like the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
While it may seem as though there is no defence for a person accused of this offence when they are caught behind the wheel, our lawyers are able to examine all technical areas of the case to determine whether the driving prohibition or suspension can be proven and whether there are any violations of the motorist’s rights under the Charter.