Impaired Driving (DUI)

Impaired driving offences in Ontario are a criminal category of driving offences that are very strictly prosecuted and are subject to mandatory minimum penalties. These offences can involve more than what people think of as “drunk driving”.


Drinking and Driving (aka "DUI") Offences

Getting arrested and charged with a DUI offence especially for the first time, can be a very scary and daunting experience. Our Toronto DUI lawyers are here to help. 

Types of DUI Charges

  • Operating a Motor Vehicle while Ability Impaired (Alcohol or Drugs) 
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle while Over 80
  • Being in Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Ability Impaired (Alcohol or Drugs) 
  • Being in Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Over 80
  • Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample
  • Failing to Provide a Breath Sample

What Happens if I am Convicted ?

  • Pay a Fine
  • Driving Prohibition
  • License Suspension
  • Possibly Jail time
  • Need to attend a treatment program
  • Be required to put an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
  • Have a permanents criminal record

What Happens After I Get Charged with a DUI?

  • Your license will be administratively suspended for a period of 90 days;
  • Your vehicle will be impounded for a period of 7 days;
  • You will be criminally charged.

What are my next steps after I get Arrested and Charged?

DUI offences are very technical in nature. It is important to reach out to a criminal defence DUI lawyer who has experience representing clients that have been charged with these types of offences. DUI offences can vary in terms of their severity. The severity is dictated by a number of different factors that include but are not limited to; if there was an accident, if there were children in the motor vehicle or conveyance, if there was any damage to property (whether it be private property or public property), if anyone sustained bodily harm during the DUI offence, and if there were any fatalities during the DUI offence.  

In addition to an analysis of the DUI charge, DUI offences are also typically analyzed with respect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These rights include but are not limited to; Right to Counsel issues, Delay issues, Compelled Statements, and privacy interest. Although DUI offences as a whole include similarities to one another, assessments are conducted on a case-by-case basis. This is important give the fact that 2 DUI offences can be similar in nature but present different availability of defences.

Additionally, there are certain cases that present unique circumstances as well that have not been subjected to litigation. Given the experience of counsel with DUI offences, all possible defences available are assessed and examined for viability. This applies to defences that have been successfully litigated in the past as well as novel defences that have never been litigated or seldomly litigated.

DUI arrests and charges can present time sensitive options, therefore it is imperative to connect with a criminal defence DUI lawyer who has experience defending these types of offences immediately. The immediacy can include but is not limited to; the collection of evidence from the scene of the incident, attending the scene of the incident, the collection of evidence from the client, interviewing possible witnesses and collecting evidence from them that could be invaluable, ascertaining whether there was any surveillance footage from the area that could be useful in mounting a defence, and speaking to a criminal defence DUI lawyer to ensure a client’s Charter rights are protected.  

 

Drinking and Driving offences include the following:

Motorized Vehicles include, but, are not limited to the following:

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Boats
  • Snowmobiles
  • E-bicycles
  • Fff-road transportation such as ATV's

Ontario is a leader in combating impaired driving through some of the toughest laws and programs in North America.

If you are charged with a drinking and driving offence, you will,

  • lose your license administratively;
  • have your vehicle impounded;
  • need to pay a monetary penalty to re-instate your license and have your vehicle returned to you;

If you are convicted with a drinking and driving offence, you may:

  • Have to pay a fine;
  • Have a driving prohibition;
  • Need to attend an education or treatment program;
  • Be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle;
  • Face jail;
  • Have a Permanent criminal record

There are three criminal DUI offences in Canada. The 3 offences include:

1. Impaired Driving / Care and Control

DUI Lawyer Toronto

The drinking and driving offences requires proof that a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of driving or the time of being in care and control of a motor vehicle. Even slight impairment can support an impaired driving charge. However, regardless of the extent of the alleged impairment, it still must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The factors that courts consider in assessing drinking and driving offences vary from case to case, but may include evidence of balance, comprehension, co-ordination, fine motor skills, judgment, physical movement and reaction time. Comprehension difficulties, or a lack of coordination, can be used to support a charge of impaired driving.

Sometimes people are charged with being in "care and control" of a vehicle while impaired, or while having excess blood alcohol. In these circumstances, an individual is charged with a drinking and driving offence even though they were not operating a vehicle, and possibly even though they were not behind the wheel at all. This is common where a person has decided to "sleep it off" in their car. Intention is critical when defending these cases. Was the accused intending to operate the vehicle, and what was the likelihood of the vehicle being accidentally set into motion? Other factors such as the location of the keys, the position of the person in the vehicle, and a person's plan for alternative transportation are all relevant considerations when defending an allegation of a drinking and driving offence.

2. Driving / Having Care and Control while Over 80

This charge is very technical. A person commits an "over 80" offence when they are either operating a motor vehicle, or in care and control of a motor vehicle with over 80mg of alcohol in 100mL of blood. The analysis of blood alcohol level is made through ether breath or blood samples. Typically, defence counsel will argue to have the samples excluded from the court's consideration, or challenge the accuracy of the findings. In cases where the prosecution relies on toxicology reports, defence counsel will argue the assumptions the extrapolated readings are predicated on are inaccurate.

3. Refuse or Fail to Provide Breath Sample

Unless there is a reasonable excuse, Canadians are legally obligated to provide samples of their breath when given a valid demand to provide a suitable sample. The first step in defending a charge of refusing or failing to provide a breath sample is for defence counsel to evaluate whether the demand was "valid." It is not an offence to refuse to comply with an invalid demand. It is only an offence to refuse to comply with a valid and lawful demand. The defence counsel must also evaluate whether there was a reasonable excuse for the failure to provide a breath sample. Refusals must be final and unequivocal. Therefore, it must also be assessed whether you were given a reasonable opportunity to provide the requested sample.

DUI - Imprisonment and Fines

The repercussions for drinking and driving are serious. If convicted, one faces the following consequences:

  • For a first offence, the mandatory minimum sentence is a 12-month driving prohibition and a $1000 fine + victim fine surcharge of 30%.
  • For a second offence, the mandatory minimum sentence is 30 days in jail and a 2-year driving prohibition.
  • For a subsequent offence, the mandatory minimum sentence is 120 days in jail and a 3-year driving prohibition.
  • These reflect the minimum sentences available, if convicted, but the actual sentence that you face could be even greater, as outlined below.

In every case, if convicted of drinking and driving, you will have a criminal record, much higher insurance rates once you resume driving, and you will have to complete remedial measures implemented by the MTO in order to have your licence reinstated.

When a person is injured or killed as a result of your offence, the drinking and driving consequences are more severe.

Drinking and Driving Offences and the Ministry of Transportation.

If convicted of a drinking and driving offence, the Ministry of Transportation may implement the following;

On a First offence:

  • Will suspend your license for a period of a year and a half. After the initial 6 month of this suspension, you may be eligible, provided you complete the requirements from the Ministry of Transportation, to operate a motor vehicle but ONLY with an interlock device in your motor vehicle.

On a Second Offence:

  • Will suspend you license for a period of 6 years. After the initial 3 years of this suspension, you may be eligible, provided you complete the requirements from the Ministry of Transportation, to operate a motor vehicle but ONLY with an interlock device in your motor vehicle.

On a Third Offence

  • Will suspend you licens

Frequently Asked Questions

The Criminal Code prohibits people from driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. You can be charged with any one of the following Criminal Code offences if you drove while impaired:

  • Operating a Motor Vehicle while Ability Impaired (Alcohol or Drugs)
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle while Over 80
  • Being in Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Ability Impaired (Alcohol or Drugs)
  • Being in Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Over 80
  • Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample
  • Failing to Provide a Breath Sample
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It is possible for a breath test to be inaccurate. You may be able to challenge the validity of a breath test by demonstrating, for example, that the device was faulty. This would require calling an expert witness on the topic to testify at trial.

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An accused is not required to physically bring the drugs into Canada on his or her person. The act of causing the drugs to be brought into Canada is enough to secure a conviction.

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If you refuse to comply with a breath demand, you can be charged with Failure or Refusal to Comply with Demand under section 320.15(1) of the Criminal Code.

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A licence suspension will be on your Driver Record for a specified period of time and will likely impact your motor vehicle insurance rates.

A Driver Record is a government-issued document with information about a driver and their licence. You often need to obtain a copy of your Driver Record for the purposes of employment and insurance.

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If you drive while impaired, the potential consequences include fines, jail time, licence suspensions, and a spike in insurance rates.

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  • Factual Innocence:If the Crown is unable to prove the essential elements of the particular offence beyond a reasonable doubt, they will have failed to discharge their burden, and the accused will be acquitted.
  • Violation of Charter Rights: Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals are afforded specific rights, including:
    • the right against unreasonable search and seizure;
    • the right to not be arbitrarily detained;
    • the right to be informed promptly of the reasons for arrest;
    • the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay; and
    • the right to be tried within a reasonable time.

A successful Charter challenge may also result in a stay of proceedings, or evidence from your case being excluded.

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DUI offences are very technical in nature. It is important to reach out to a criminal defence DUI lawyer who has experience representing clients that have been charged with these types of offences. DUI offences can vary in terms of their severity. The severity is dictated by a number of different factors that include but are not limited to; if there was an accident, if there were children in the motor vehicle or conveyance, if there was any damage to property (whether it be private property or public property), if anyone sustained bodily harm during the DUI offence, and if there were any fatalities during the DUI offence.

In addition to an analysis of the DUI charge, DUI offences are also typically analyzed with respect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These rights include but are not limited to; Right to Counsel issues, Delay issues, Compelled Statements, and privacy interest. Although DUI offences as a whole include similarities to one another, assessments are conducted on a case-by-case basis. This is important give the fact that 2 DUI offences can be similar in nature but present different availability of defences.

Additionally, there are certain cases that present unique circumstances as well that have not been subjected to litigation. Given the experience of counsel with DUI offences, all possible defences available are assessed and examined for viability. This applies to defences that have been successfully litigated in the past as well as novel defences that have never been litigated or seldomly litigated.

DUI arrests and charges can present time sensitive options, therefore it is imperative to connect with a criminal defence DUI lawyer who has experience defending these types of offences immediately. The immediacy can include but is not limited to; the collection of evidence from the scene of the incident, attending the scene of the incident, the collection of evidence from the client, interviewing possible witnesses and collecting evidence from them that could be invaluable, ascertaining whether there was any surveillance footage from the area that could be useful in mounting a defence, and speaking to a criminal defence DUI lawyer to ensure a client's Charter rights are protected.

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If you drive while having a suspended licence, you can be charged under the Criminal Code with Driving While Prohibited as well as under the Highway Traffic Act with Drive While Suspended. The maximum punishment of Driving While Prohibited is 10 years imprisonment if the Crown proceeds by indictment, or 2 years less a day and/or a fine not exceeding $5000 if the Crown proceeds by summary conviction. If convicted under the Highway Act, you could face up to $5000 in fines and a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months.

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One's blood alcohol level, formally known as Blood Alcohol Concentration is the amount of alcohol in your blood. In Canada, the BAC limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or .08%.

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The maximum legal blood alcohol concentration for fully licenced drivers (people who have obtained their G class licence) is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood or 0.08.However, you can also be charged if you are in the warn range , which is between 0.05 to 0.079.

There is a zero tolerance policy (mean you cannot have any alcohol or drugs in your system) in Ontario if you are:

  • Under the age of 21;
  • Have a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence;
  • Drive a vehicle that requires an A-F driver's licence or Commercial Vehicle Operator's Registration; or
  • Drive a road-building machine
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