First-Time DUI Charge in Ontario
You have a DUI charge on your record and you feel overwhelmed by how much you don’t know. It’s time to educate yourself because the more you learn, the better able you’ll be to make the right decisions for yourself and your situation. And when I say “the right decisions”, I’m talking about the ones that make the difference between losing your licence and keeping it, getting fired and saving your job, and doing jail time or maintaining your freedom.
What is a DUI Charge?
DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and refers to any situation in which a person operates a motorized vehicle (automobile, boat, snowmobile or motorcycle) while impaired by alcohol or drugs. This is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada and can be broken down into three categories:
- Impaired Driving (operating a vehicle while you are affected by alcohol or legal and illegal drugs)
- Driving While Over 80 mg of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
- Refusal to Provide a Breath Sample
- Impaired Care or Control
Impaired driving charges tend to be complex cases because they come in many forms under the criminal code. However, in a strictly impaired driving case, the prosecution must show that you were exhibiting the traditional indicia (or indicators) of impairment. The odour of alcohol, slurred speech, unsteadiness of the feet and poor driving are common examples. Given the fact that there are so many factors at play, it is critical that the accused do not limit their options by pleading guilty. Hire an experienced criminal lawyer with a successful track record to handle your case.
Driving While Over 80
The charge for driving with over 80mgs of alcohol in 100mls of blood is found under Section 253 (1)(b) of the Criminal Code. A driver is given an Over 80 charge when he or she is taken to a police station where two separate breath samples are obtained (at least 15 minutes apart) and the lower of the two indicates a blood alcohol concentration higher than 80mgs%. It’s important to note that Over 80 charges are very difficult for the Crown to prove. This gives you all the more reason to hire a Mississauga criminal attorney.
Refusal to Provide a Breath Sample
A driver who fails or refuses to provide a breath sample upon request from a police officer (for example, by saying “no” or by faking a blow into the device) will be charged with Refusing or Failing to Comply with a Breath Demand. In this type of case, in order for you to be convicted, the Crown must prove that your refusal or failure to provide the sample was “final and unequivocal”. Even if the Crown is able to do this, there are still a number of defences, including “having a reasonable excuse”, for which the courts have found many acceptable reasons to date.
First or Second DUI Charge in Ontario: What are the consequences?
If you are convicted of a DUI charge in Mississauga, I won’t lie to you – the consequences are serious. Depending on the nature of the charge and whether or not this is a first, second or third/subsequent offence, the penalties differ and may include one or all of the following:
- Licence suspension (1 year to lifetime)
- Fine ($1000 or more)
- Mandatory attendance of education or treatment programs
- Installation of ignition interlock device
- Dramatic increases in insurance premiums
- Jail sentence (up to lifetime)
This is not an easy list to read or to come to terms with if this is what you’re facing. But don’t forget: you are innocent until proven guilty. It is up to you to hire the right DUI attorney who can maximize your chances of case dismissal or acquittal.
What Are My Options?
Simply put, you have two:
- Plead guilty.
- Go to trial.
Even though you think it may make sense to plead guilty, in the vast majority of cases, it is not in your best interest. Having said that, if it is, I am a Mississauga criminal defence lawyer who tells it to you straight so you can save your money and do just that. But if it isn’t, as one of my first orders of business, I explain all the reasons why it isn’t in your best interest so you feel educated and confident moving forward in preparation for trial.
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How to Avoid a DUI Charge and How to Handle Getting Pulled Over
To blow or not to blow.
Although it may seem as though “blowing over” works more against you than not blowing at all, you absolutely should blow if you are asked to do so. Why? #1 – it’s the law and #2 – there are more defences on an “Over 80” charge than on a “Refusal to Provide a Breath Sample”. Having said that, if you’re reading this and you’ve already refused to blow, not to worry. There are still a number of possible defences in your favour and I can help.
“Sleeping it off” in the car.
If you’re sleeping in a car and a police officer knocks on your window because he believes you are under the influence, you will get charged. The fact that your car wasn’t running is not considered a reasonable excuse. To avoid any risk, never sleep in your car after you’ve been drinking.
One drink an hour is a good rule of thumb.
No, it is not. It would be nice if this were true, but it doesn’t work that way. The way your body processes and handles alcohol depends on a wide range of factors including gender, weight, age, muscle mass vs. fat mass, and the food in your stomach. Therefore, if you’ve been drinking it’s best not to get behind the wheel and always make sure you have a designated driver.
Sleep through the night and drive first thing in the morning.
You’d think a full night’s rest after a drinking party would be enough. But often it isn’t. Many times simply not enough time has passed to eliminate the alcohol from your blood. It is still a good idea to use a taxi or an Uber, even the following morning.