Impaired driving is defined as an individual’s compromised ability to operate, or be in the care or control of, a vehicle (cars, boats, snowmobiles, off-road vehicles) due to the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs (illegal drugs, prescription and over-the-counter medications, cannabis). It also includes the refusal to provide a breath sample to the police.
In Canada, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers is under 80 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood. Even if you feel sober, driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, commonly referred to as over 80, is a criminal offence that is strictly prosecuted.
As of October 17, 2018, it became legal to possess cannabis in Canada. If you are found to have five nanograms or more of THC in your blood, it is dealt with as seriously as if you're caught with a BAC over 0.08.
Impaired Driving Sentences
Conviction results in many serious repercussions. In addition to a mandatory one-year driving suspension, the penalties include:
- Criminal Conviction and Record
- Minimum Fine of $1,000
- Lengthy Pre-trial Driving Suspension
- One-Year Canada-Wide Driving Suspension
- Substantial Increase in Insurance Rates
- Potential Loss of Job Opportunities
- Potential Restrictions on International Travel
New DUI Legislation
On December 18, 2018, Parliament introduced Bill C-46 that significantly changed the laws of impaired driving. Timing of the Offence is one of the most striking amendments to the previous legislation. That is, the Crown can now prove that an individual has a BAC over 80 within two hours of the time of driving, rather than at the time of driving. According to the new Mandatory Alcohol Screening provision (s.320.27(2) of the Criminal Code), the police no longer require reasonable suspicion to demand a breath test; Random Breath Testing is now in effect. If you do not comply with a breath demand, you can be charged with the offence of refusing a breath sample, which carries the same punishment as impaired driving. As well, the maximum sentence for impaired driving is now 10 years imprisonment, up from five, under the new s.320.19(1) of the Criminal Code. These are just a few of the changes.
Defences for Impaired Driving
A strong defence for DUI charges can be time-sensitive, making it crucial to contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. DUI offences can also be complex and vary in terms of their severity, such as if there was any damage to public or private property, if anyone sustained bodily harm, or if any fatalities were caused by the offence.
DUI offences are examined with respect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and with the more recent changes to the laws of impaired driving come a radical change to your rights. The lawyers at Kantor LLP will make constitutional challenges to ensure your rights are protected. From challenging a Breathalyzer™ test to exploring treatment programs instead of jail time, our defence lawyers are exhaustive in their approach.
*We accept Legal Aid cases.