Charged with drinking in driving? Our lawyers can help you defend impaired driving charges.

impaired driving lawyer duiBeyond all the typical reasons why it’s important to hire a lawyer when facing criminal charges, impaired driving carries with it special concerns and unique consequences in comparison to many other offences.

It’s in your best interest to speak to an experienced impaired driving lawyer before doing anything.

For most people charged with impaired driving, the ancillary effects of a conviction far outweighs the immediate fine or sentence. Upon a finding of guilt for impaired driving (or “over 80” or “DUI”), insurance premiums will skyrocket, there will be a mandatory driving suspension for a period of one year, as well as remedial programs imposed by the government to transition back into driving (such as ignition interlock systems installed in vehicles).  All of this comes with considerable expense and unbearable inconvenience to those people who rely upon their driving for work and day to day purposes.

Unfortunately, there is no simple, or inexpensive way to address impaired driving charges.  Even though lawyers fees may be high, they will often pale in comparison to the money spent on insurance and other matters if a conviction is registered. Therefore, do not agree to plead guilty until you understand whether there are defences that apply to your case, and what the consequences are of a conviction like this.

How urgent is it to hire a lawyer for my impaired driving charge?

Obviously a person can approach this however they wish.  The choice on whether to hire an impaired driving lawyer or not is up to the person charged with the offence.  However, delaying this decision can also have consequences as there are time limits on different approaches for these types of offences in Ontario.

In particular, if a person decides to plead guilty early they are eligible for “Stream A” or “Stream B” licence reinstatement and reduced driving prohibitions.   For those charges in Ontario, a detailed explanation of the differences between such programs can be found at the Ministry of Transportation website on impaired driving consequences and the Back on Track Program.

Depending on the facts of your case, entering such a program may or may not be advisable.  However, those decisions need to be made promptly and no less than 90 days from the date of the offence in the case of “Stream A” allowances.  This is why it is very important to obtain proper legal advice and assistance at the earliest opportunity so that a prudent course of action can be decided upon by the alleged offender.  In short, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible regardless of your intended course of action so you can fully appreciate the consequences to your actions and whether there is any way to avoid culpability, including proving one’s innocence.

Do I really need a lawyer for impaired driving charges?

Impaired driving is an extremely complicated and specialized area of law that requires a great deal of experience and knowledge to understand what the issues may be as it relates to your case.  To name only a few common aspects:

  • Can the Crown prove the person was in “care and control” of the motor vehicle at the time of the offence?
  • Was there an intention or act of driving even if they had constructive care and control of the vehicle (for example, found drunk sleeping in a running car to keep warm)?
  • Were the devices used approved in law?
  • Were the devices in proper working order and maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications?
  • Did the police engage the testing as soon as practicable?
  • Were there any constitutional violations in obtaining the samples or observations of impairment?
  • Was the person detained in excess of what they ought to have been in the circumstances?
  • Do the observations made prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was impaired at the time?
  • Does new provisions under the Criminal Code to establish impairment by drug meet sufficient levels of reliability or are they junk science?

As mentioned, this is only a small fraction of the types of issues a lawyer will look at in assessing the merit to defending an impaired driving / over 80 charge that a client may be facing.  Even though a person has an absolute right to defend themselves, they also have an absolute right to try and take out their own wisdom teeth – neither decision will end well.

Please call one of our lawyers today at (416) 999-8389 for an initial consultation at no cost before making any decision that will result in severe consequences that will undoubtedly affect your ability to work, travel, and support yourself and family. Speak to an impaired driving lawyer from Robichaud’s today.

What is “impaired driving”? Is it the same as “DUI” or “drunk driving”?

“Impaired driving” is a common phrase to describe a very common offence in criminal law.  Many non-lawyers call it “drunk driving” or “DUI” but most an impaired driving lawyer, who practices in this area of law in Canada, refer to it is “impaired driving” or “over 80”.

This is because the relevant sections of the Criminal Code of Canada reads as follows:

253. (1) Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle or vessel or operates or assists in the operation of an aircraft or of railway equipment or has the care or control of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment, whether it is in motion or not,

(a) while the person’s ability to operate the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment is impaired by alcohol or a drug; or

(b) having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person’s blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood.

(2) For greater certainty, the reference to impairment by alcohol or a drug in paragraph (1)(a) includes impairment by a combination of alcohol and a drug.

As one can see, section 253 of the Criminal Code captures what most people refer to when they are speaking of a drinking and driving charge.  It also includes driving while under the influence of a drug (such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD, etc.)

What happens if I just plead guilty to impaired driving or refuse breath sample?

Many people wrongly believe that that impaired driving is not a true “criminal offence” in the same way that robbery or drug dealing is.  Although it’s true there may not be the same sort of stigmatization as other types of criminal offences, impaired driving / dui charges have very serious consequences that are often far more severe the “true” criminal offences. Regardless, impaired driving, refusing to provide a breath sample, (or DUI) are all criminal offences that, if convicted, will result in a criminal record.  Speaking to an experienced impaired driving lawyer may prevent that from happening. 

More importantly, it carries very unique and severe consequences on a person’s life.  The most significant for most is the driving prohibition for a minimum of one year.  The other most significant aspect to most is the massive increases in insurance premiums.

Here is one article from an insurance company explaining that rates could double, or even triple after an impaired driving conviction.  Many insurance companies will simply refuse to insure a person with an impaired driving record, forcing that person to go with high risk brokers and paying the corresponding high rates.

The Criminal Code Sections on Impaired Driving in Canada:

The specific penalties under the Criminal Code are as follows:

255. (1) Every one who commits an offence under section 253 or 254 is guilty of an indictable offence or an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable

(a) whether the offence is prosecuted by indictment or punishable on summary conviction, to the following minimum punishment, namely,

(i) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $1,000,

(ii) for a second offence, to imprisonment for not less than 30 days, and

(iii) for each subsequent offence, to imprisonment for not less than 120 days;

(b) where the offence is prosecuted by indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; and

(c) if the offence is punishable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months.


259. (1) When an offender is convicted of an offence committed under section 253 […] the court that sentences the offender shall, in addition to any other punishment that may be imposed for that offence, make an order prohibiting the offender from operating a motor vehicle on any street, road, highway or other public place, or from operating a vessel or an aircraft or railway equipment, as the case may be,

(a) for a first offence, during a period of not more than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than one year;

(b) for a second offence, during a period of not more than five years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than two years; and

(c) for each subsequent offence, during a period of not less than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment.

2017Tuesday, June 20,

Is Impaired Driving a Criminal Offence

June 20th, 2017|0 Comments

Is impaired driving a criminal offence in Ontario, Canada? A common misunderstanding among many Canadians is viewing impaired driving and "Over 80" charges as something less than "criminal". These charges are also commonly [...]