Drinking and Driving includes
- Impaired Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Over 80
- Refuse Breath Demand
This kind of offence is the only interaction most people will ever have with the criminal justice system. It is a situation that anyone who makes a slight misjudgement can find themselves in. It is a crime and requires good solid legal representation. While there have been significant changes in the public attitudes towards drinking and driving, it remains the case that when I meet with these clients, they are often particularly upset, even surprised, at being accused of a serious criminal offence. Add to that the fact that the consequences of being convicted of drinking and driving are so serious that it can literally have a devastating effect on one’s life. Consider this:
If convicted of Over 80, Impaired Operation of Refuse Sample, the very minimum consequences will be:
- you will lose your license to drive in Canada for one year at a minimum, depending on your specific situation (Stream A or Stream B)
- you will have a permanent criminal record (subject to a Record Suppression application);
- you will have to take a course at your expense put on by the Ministry of Transportation to get your license back (“Back on Track”);
- you will have to install, at your expense, a breathalyzer device (“Interlock Device”) in your car for a year;
- you will be fined at least $1,000.00;
- your car insurance premiums will increase on an epic scale.
There was a time when these cases could be won more often than not. There were loopholes in the law that allowed a variety of easy-to-mount defenses. Not anymore. Honest counsel will tell most people charged with these offences that mounting a successful defence is very difficult and the high cost of doing the case may not be proportionate to the chance of success. While I can’t speak to the practice of other lawyers in this regard, that is my practice. That is not to say they cannot be won. I have mounted successful Charter of Rights attacks on the police conduct. I have countered the Prosecution’s evidence with evidence from our own toxicologist to raise doubts about the functioning of the breath machine. There are lots of technical details that the Prosecution has to get just right. When they fall short, we can win the case. Also, in your case, there may be ways to mitigate the pain of the harsh minimum sentences. There are strategies available to get the guilty drinking driver back on the road sooner than the 1-year minimum, and for some clients, this is the best of a bad situation. I cherry-pick my Drinking and Driving cases. I know a winner when I see one, and I enjoy going to court on the winners. For this reason I tend to win almost all the ones I take on. However, I tell an increasing number of clients that they may be better off saving money they would spend on a trial (usually between $5,000-10,000) and simply let me work out the best deal that the facts and the circumstances allow. Impaired by Drugs is a fascinating new area of the law. While it has been illegal for decades to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by a drug, detection was always very difficult for the police. They have new investigative and statutory tools to assist in apprehending high drivers. However, these cases are much more difficult to prove than cases involving alcohol and you should never plead guilty to such an offence without retaining counsel to do a thorough review of the case. These are definitely winnable cases.