Drinking and Driving (aka "DUI") Offences
Getting charged with a Drinking and Driving offence can be a very daunting experience, we are here to help.
Drinking and Driving offences include the following:
- Operating a Motor Vehicle while Ability Impaired
- Operating a Motor Vehicle while Over 80
- Being in Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Ability Impaired
- Being in Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Over 80
- Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample
- Failing to Provide a Breath Sample
Motorized Vehicles include, but, are not limited to the following:
- off-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:
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.
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.
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