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Driving Under the Influence in Canada: A Seemingly Minor Crime With Major Penalties

 

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a major problem worldwide and is a criminal offense in most countries. Although there are some differences from one country to another, the one thing that remains constant around the globe is the fact that a large percentage of arrests and trials are caused by this specific problem.

If you ever asked yourself why there are so many criminal law firms specializing in this type of offences, now you know the answer. For example, in Ontario alone, in the year 2005, the police reported about 17,000 impaired driving incidents, resulting in 174 deaths and 3,852 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving an impaired driver. This alone might explain why Toronto DUI lawyers will always have a large number of clients.

Statistics related to driving under the influence

• Each year, around seventeen thousand citizens are convicted of offences like impaired driving, driving while the blood alcohol level is over 0.08, dangerous driving, criminal negligence resulting in death or bodily harm, manslaughter, etc.

• In Canada, it is estimated that 38% of fatalities and 19% of injuries resulting from car crashes are due to use of alcohol.

• By 2008, cases of driving after drinking represented the largest percentage of cases for a single criminal charge, namely 12 percent. Almost 53,000 such cases are under trial every year. Usually there are more cases for male offenders, especially for those who are younger than 25 years of age, for which driving under influence is usually related not only to alcohol, but also the use of drugs.

With such alarming figures, it is not surprising that law enforcement agencies are treating this matter with great interest.

Legal provisions regarding DUI/DWI in Canada

When it comes to DUI, Canada has very strict legislation. It is illegal to drive or control any vehicle on land, water or air after consuming alcohol or drugs. If you do so, you are liable for punishment under multiple offences according to the Criminal Code, and you risk having your driver license suspended. Section 253 (1) of the code clearly states what constitutes an offense and establishes the BAC limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood, as the maximum allowed for someone who is in care or control of a motor vehicle, even when not driving it.

Types of possible punishments under Canadian law

If you have been found guilty and convicted in Canada for any type of drinking and driving offense, then you will face not only a driving prohibition, but also a fine or a jail punishment as follows:

• After a first offence, 12-month driving prohibition and a $1000 fine
• After a second offence, 24-month driving prohibition and thirty days in jail
• For subsequent offences, 36-month driving prohibition and 120 days in jail.

If the collision did not result in human victims, either fatalities or injured persons, then the maximum penalties are:

• 18 months of jail for summary offences
• 5 years in jail for indictable offences;

If the accident resulted in injured victims, the maximum penalty can go up to 10 years in jail or even a life sentence for fatalities.

Try to remember that, although there are a large number of lawyers specializing in this kind of offence, the punishments you risk are also serious, so the best option you have is still to avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Where to Place Criminal Law in the Domain of Law In Canada

canadian flag

What is Criminal Law?

As the name suggests, criminal law is the area of the law that deals with crime, from prevention to punishment. Its purpose is to regulate social conduct so that everyone can feel safe from threat and harm. It is different from civil law, where the focus is on solving disputes and offering compensations to victims, rather than punishing offenders.

Let’s see what fields of law are available for lawyers to choose from:

  1. Law in the public interest: Working in the public interest can refer to working in the benefit of a public interest group, such as the Women’s Legal and Education Action Fund, or working at a legal aid clinic.
  2. Private practice: In private practice, lawyers have individual clients, either people or private corporations. Lawyers often choose to specialize in one area of law, such as defense law, environmental law, family or corporate law. There are lawyers who deal with several areas and not just one.
  3. Government: When a lawyer works for the government, the government is its client. Such a lawyer can be a Crown Attorney or maybe have a ministry as its client.

 

Another Way to Look at Legal Fields:

  1. Civil Rights – This area focuses on the equilibrium between governmental power and individual liberties. There are relatively few jobs in this field in particular, but lawyers specialized in other fields can deal with cases from this one too.
  2. Corporate and Securities Law – clients are advised on how to manage their businesses so that they are both efficient and in line with the law. The corporate lawyer may have tasks from preparing the initial articles of incorporation and paperwork for starting a new enterprise to reorganizing a business according to federal bankruptcy law.
  3. Criminal Law – Lawyers in criminal defense must represent clients that have been charged with a crime. The prosecutors and district attorneys are their counterparts in this scheme, and they represent the state and its interests in the prosecution of the suspect. Whether we’re talking about a Vancouver criminal lawyer or a Toronto criminal lawyer, both types of legal experts, those standing for the defense and those standing for the prosecution, deal with issues related to personal liberty, individual rights and other issues of the law that aim at maintaining a free and just society.
  4. Education Law – Attorneys in this field can work in the interests of a school district or another educational agency in issues that are relevant to education law. For example, such matters might involve the process of principal and teacher selection, student residency issues or tuition fraud.
  5. Employment and Labor Law – This area of law deals with the legal rights of employees and employers. Lawyers may get involved in disputes concerning wages, number of worked hours, safety at the work place, child labor or pension plans.

An Overview

We have only discussed some of the fields of law, but there are many others: environmental and natural resources law, family and juvenile law, health law, immigration law, intellectual property law, international law, real estate law, sports and entertainment law, and tax law. Our purpose was to show what choices there are in the domain of law, among which one can prefer criminal law by comparison.

 

 

 

Impaired Driving in Canada – Facts and Figures

Impaired driving in Canada is a criminal offence, just like it happens in many other countries. DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while impaired) refers to driving while having a concentration of 80 milligrams alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood, meaning a concentration of 0,08. Refusing to provide a breath sample on the roadside when the police ask to is also a drinking and driving offence that of.

Impaired Fatality by age

Impaired driving facts

  • In Ontario, during the past ten years, over 2,000 lives have been lost and a number of over 50,000 people have suffered injuries as a consequence of accidents in which a drinking driver was involved.
  • Financially speaking, the costs of drinking and driving (due to health care, property damage etc.) are estimated at $3 billion per year in Ontario.
  • Given penalties that are imposed at 0.08 for a first offence, around the globe, Canada shares the longest maximum prison sentence with Germany, respectively the sentence for five years. The longest maximum after that is of two years, which is shared by Canada with some American jurisdictions.
  • Impaired driving in Canada is seriously fined. The $1000 mandatory minimum fine in Canada exceeds the mandatory minimum fines applied in Australian jurisdictions. Canadian fines also exceed the fines applied in most European countries, except for France, where the minimum is of €4,500 (over $7,300).
  • Compared with other jurisdictions that have adopted a 0.08 BAC, Canada has the longest driving prohibition, respectively of one to three years. The minimum one-year prohibition applied in Canada is the maximum in other jurisdictions.
  • For driving while impaired, the Criminal Code asks that a minimum fine of $1000 be applied for a first offence and also for a criminal conviction to be registered on the person’s permanent record. Drunk driving convictions that follow bring along minimum jail penalties that start with 30 days in jail for a second conviction. If a third conviction occurs, the minimum punishment is of 120 days spent in jail.
  • For impaired driving in Canada, a compulsory driving prohibition is also required. The driver will usually be prohibited to drive anywhere for at least one year, or just for three months in a province like Alberta or Quebec.
  • Aside from the penalties applied by the Criminal Code for impaired driving in Canada, a conviction for DWI also affects the vehicle insurance coverage and the premiums.
  • There are impaired driving lawyers that one can turn to in hope of remaining with a clear record. These are criminal lawyers who have extended experience in DUI cases and who can find a way out of the situation many times.
  • Those who are thinking of traveling to Canada but have a conviction for DUI within no less than the last ten years should better reconsider their traveling choice. Any sort of impaired driving offence is seen as the equivalent to the Canadian Criminal Code offence of DWI. Misdemeanor convictions are included. If you have a conviction for impaired driving, even if no accident had occurred, then you may be denied entrance in Canada.

All in all, impaired driving in Canada is seen as a serious offense that can have consequences on the long term, even if no accident has occurred.

 

Refusing A Breathalyzer Test

How to Handle Refusal Cases – the Implications of the Decision to Refuse to Provide a Breath Sample

Breath Test Results

If you are stopped by the police and required to undergo a breath test, you must be aware that, in Canada, it is against the law to refuse to provide a breath sample when requested to do so, and it may entail severe consequences.

This situation may aggravate if you not only refuse testing from a roadside screening device, but also with the more complex tester at the police station.

The police may request you to provide a blood sample as well, this time with the help of qualified medical professionals. Failing to comply with that request is also a serious offense.

The Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

However serious this may sound, refusal in all these cases is to be considered an offense only if all the requirements regarding the testing procedure have been strictly respected by the law enforcement authorities. You need to be prepared that the peace officer/s who took care of the testing will also testify in the case, but if they failed to act based on reasonable and probable grounds, it means that the testing demand itself was unjustified. If the demand itself is unlawful, it is not against the law to deny compliance.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer If You Refuse to Provide a Breath Sample?

You can justify your refusal to undergo testing with a well-founded legal excuse, but even in such a situation you will need a legal professional to present your case to the prosecution.

Here is what a DUI lawyer can do for you in case of a refusal:

-        He or she can present the eventual errors of procedure which might  justify your refusal to act as you have been requested.

-        Proving possible procedural errors can also determine whether the traffic stop was justified or unjustified. If it was, it can lead to the subsequent dropping of all charges. Police officers need to have a good reason to stop you; the simple feeling that there may be something wrong with your driving style is not enough, and will never make a strong DUI case against you.

-        Your lawyer can present your excuse, for example a certain medical condition, in a convincing manner and eliminate the refusal charges against you.

DUI Lawyer

Just like DUI cases, refusal charges are no simple matters and you need a qualified DUI lawyer by your side if you want to go through the procedure as quickly as possible and to win your case or to get the mildest possible punishment.

Just like in DUI cases, your lawyer will be with you while you are being questioned, prepare you for the entire process, and handle the plea bargain for you if need be.

If you refuse to provide a breath sample in a DUI case, you need a lawyer, so don’t hesitate: contact a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases in your area, call that lawyer, tell him about your case and let him defend you – a good lawyer can help you get your normal life back within the shortest time possible.

 

Finding The Right Lawyer for a DUI

DUI Lawyer

Why Talk to a Lawyer in a DUI Case – There Are Many Good Reasons

If you are faced with a DUI offense, you must be aware that it is a very serious charge that might affect your life in many ways in the future. Many people give up the right to adequate defense in such situations. They ask, ” why talk to a lawyer if the breath test indicates a blood alcohol level over the legal limit?”

However, you must also be aware that DUI lawyers specialize in apparently hopeless cases, and make a living by finding a defense even when the untrained eye sees no evidence to prove innocence, no mitigating circumstances. Even though no DUI lawyer can guarantee a dismissal of the case, they can significantly reduce the charge and the punishment for the defendant – let’s see how.

Why Talk to a Lawyer Right from the Beginning

The most important thing you should do when you are stopped by the police is to tell the police officer “I need a lawyer”. This way, you can avoid engaging in an eventual conflict with the law enforcement authorities or aggravating your situation in any other way.

Here are some other advantages of having a DUI lawyer by your side right from the beginning:

  • With a good lawyer, you can be sure that all crucial evidence proving your innocence will be preserved.
  • Your DUI lawyer will answer all your questions about the procedure you will need to go through.
  • Your lawyer will answer the questions of the police as well.
  • The lawyer will analyze your case and will help you decide whether you should plead guilty or not guilty.
  • If you plead not guilty, you lawyer will take care of the entire procedure for you, including hiring private investigators or expert witnesses if need be to preparing you for your trial.
  • If you decide to plead guilty because your innocence cannot be proven convincingly, your lawyer can help you make the most of the plea bargaining process and get your charges and/or your sentence reduced.

How can a criminal defence lawyer help you?

 

How to Choose a Lawyer for a DUI Case

There are several different types of lawyers out there and not all of them handle DUI cases. In order to get the best legal counseling, you need a lawyer who is an expert in exactly the type of charges you are facing. You can find a lawyer who has experience in the domain of DUI and related charges, by asking around among your friends or family or with the help of the internet – many individual lawyers and law firms operate websites that contain ample information about their experience and qualifications.

How to Hire a Lawyer

Once you find a lawyer, you should contact him or her. Many legal counselors offer free lawyer consultation and initial evaluation of your case.  They will also tell you about the financial implications of your case so that you can decide whether you can afford that particular lawyer or you should look for another one.

In case you are still wondering why talk to a lawyer in a DUI case, here is the answer in a nutshell: because a lawyer can help you win your case more easily or negotiate on your behalf to get the best possible plea bargain so that you can continue your life as soon as possible with minimum consequences.