Drinking and Driving (DUI) Lawyer Toronto

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Drinking and Driving Law

Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol falls under the criminal code’s drinking and driving offences.

The legislation on impaired driving has evolved significantly in recent years. The Crown now has a simpler route to obtaining convictions because of recent changes to the Criminal Code. In the event of a conviction, the penalties have also been enhanced. The technical nature of impaired driving charges necessitates the hiring of lawyers with significant expertise in this area. 

Upon being retained, our firm formally requests disclosure from the Crown. Crown disclosure includes: the officer’s notes, video evidence, breathalyzer printouts, documentary evidence, and any witness statements. Once we have this, we carefully examine the officer’s investigation for any flaws. We then present a strong defence at trial, revealing the case’s shortcomings. At times, we have been able to persuade prosecutors to agree to favorable resolutions involving the withdrawal of criminal DUI charges, due to serious legal issues that we identify. We have been able to secure successful results in Toronto, Newmarket, Brampton, Mississauga, and all throughout Ontario. 

The following are drinking and driving related criminal offences in Canada:

  • Impaired driving;
  • Driving “over 80” (when the concentration of alcohol in your blood is or exceeds 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood);
  • Care and control of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs;
  • Refusing to provide a sample;
  • Failing to provide a sample;
  • Dangerous driving and dangerous driving causing death.

Criminal charges are highly technical, and we are well-versed in them. If you are convicted, you will face a fine or time in prison. Additionally, you can expect a minimum one-year suspension of your driver’s license, which does not include suspensions under the Highway Traffic Act.

DUI legal consequences and implications

The consequences for any of the aforementioned offences are severe. You face a minimum $1,000 fine and a one-year driving prohibition if you are convicted (or plead guilty) of impaired driving, driving “over 80” , care and control of a motor vehicle while impaired, or failing to provide a sample. If you are convicted of any of the abovementioned offences for the second time, you will be sentenced to a minimum of 30 days in prison and a three-year driving ban. Any subsequent offence (your third, fourth, etc.) will result in a minimum of 120 days in prison and a ten-year driving ban.

While these penalties are serious, they have far-reaching financial consequences that go well beyond the mandated minimum punishment of $1,000 for a first offence. These costs include insurance premiums skyrocketing after you get back behind the wheel, as well as fees for the impaired driving education program, the ignition interlock program, and license reinstatement.

Impaired Driving Cases

The prosecution must prove in court that the driver’s capacity to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence that the driver’s ability to drive was impaired is typically adduced through the testimony of police officers and civilian witnesses. 

Police utilize a variety of investigation techniques to prove impairment. Police may ask you to blow into an Approved Screening Device, or ASD, on the side of the road. Police may also use indicators such as irregular driving patterns or other visual evidence to prove impairment. The officers who stopped you, for example, may have detected an odour of liquor, bloodshot eyes, or slurring when you speak. They may claim that you had trouble standing straight or that you admitted to drinking recently.

In cases involving drinking and driving, there are a number of defences that might be available. Every case is unique, including the defences that may be viable based on the specific facts of your case. Arguments that the Crown cannot prove the driver’s identification, that the breath testing was inaccurate, that the police issued an improper breath demand, that the police did not have reasons to arrest the motorist, and other Charter-related issues are also common defences. 

Inconsistencies in witness testimony, the unreliability of evidence, and the fact that many of the witness’ observations may be consistent with the behavior of a driver who is not impaired in their ability to drive are all highlighted in a strong defence. Our Toronto-based law firm has substantial experience defending impaired driving charges in courts all throughout Ontario.

We have been able to win seemingly unwinnable impaired driving cases by employing creative constitutional arguments

Many impaired trials incorporate Charter litigation, which entails challenging whether the accused’s Charter rights have been violated and whether this should lead to evidence being excluded. A thorough cross-examination of the investigating police officer is required in many impaired trials. Many impaired cases necessitate knowledge of the complicated legal framework that governs breath demands and breath samples. Obtaining legal guidance can assist you in better understanding the process as well as possible defences, allowing you to make educated choices about how you wish to proceed in your case.

Common sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that are relevant to DUI cases are:

Section 8 – The right against unreasonable search or seizure.
Section 9 – The right against being arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
Section 10(a) -The right to be informed promptly of the reasons for detention or arrest;
Section 10(b) – The right to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right;
Section 11(b) – The right to be tried within a reasonable time;

We are very experienced at arguing the Charter and have achieved remarkable results for clients by doing so. We have experience handling cases throughout Toronto, Brampton, Newmarket, and elsewhere in Ontario.

Care and Control

Every driver is aware that it is illegal to drive a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or while exceeding the legal limit. Fewer individuals are aware that being in “care and control” of a vehicle while your ability to drive is impaired, or when you are over the legal limit, is also illegal. The impaired driving regime defines “operate” as “to drive [a motor vehicle] or to have care or control of it” in an attempt to simplify the legislation. As a result, even if you are not purposefully “driving” a motor vehicle, you can be deemed to be “operating” one. 

You are believed to be in care and control of a vehicle if you are located in the driver’s seat, regardless of whether the vehicle is running or the keys are in the ignition. A person sleeping in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle with their keys in their pocket, for example, is nevertheless considered to be in control of that vehicle. All too often, persons who never planned to drive while intoxicated are charged with a crime because they were found in the driver’s seat by the authorities.

You may be able to persuade a court that you were not in care and control of the vehicle if you can establish that you were not in the driver’s seat for the purpose of operating the vehicle and that there was no significant risk that you would accidently activate the vehicle. You should immediately contact a Toronto defence lawyer to discuss your possibilities of winning at trial.

Over 80

Driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 mL of blood was illegal under the former impaired driving laws. As a result, the offence was frequently referred to as “Over 80.” 

The new impaired driving law has modified the legal limit for alcohol and included a number of additional “legal limits” for substances. Operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of equal to or over 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood is now illegal. As a result, if your blood alcohol content is 80 mg per 100 mL of blood, you can now be charged with a crime. Keep in mind that the moniker “over 80” is no longer technically accurate although it is still commonly used. 

Your blood alcohol level is determined by a variety of factors, including the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed, the alcohol content of each drink, when you consumed each drink, your weight, gender, how rapidly you absorbed the liquor, and how quickly your body eliminated the alcohol. Because everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, it’s impossible to predict a person’s blood alcohol level solely on the amount of alcohol they’ve drank.

Drinking alcohol after driving

Under the Criminal Code’s drinking and driving statutes, it is illegal to have a blood alcohol concentration that is equal to or exceeds 80 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood within two hours of ceasing to operate your vehicle. The phrase “within two hours after ceasing to operate” raises an obvious issue. What happens if you get out of your car and then drink alcohol? It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which this would occur: imagine you were the designated driver for your colleagues. You didn’t drink any alcohol and returned home. You walked inside after arriving home and consumed a couple of drinks. Your blood alcohol level may have exceeded the legal limit “within two hours of stopping to operate” your car, but not while you were driving.

Thankfully, the impaired driving statute has a number of provisions that should help to avoid a situation like this. If all of the following circumstances are met, you will not be charged with “operation while blood alcohol concentration is equal to or over the legal limit”:

  1. You ingested the alcohol after discontinuing to operate the car; 
  2. You had no reasonable expectation of being asked to provide a sample of your breath or blood when you consumed the alcohol; and 
  3. Your blood alcohol content would have been below the legal limit when you last drove a car, based on your alcohol consumption (pursuant to a formula).

Our Past Results

R. v. Z.N.: The client was arrested for “Over 80” and driving while impaired. The police were contacted after he was seen leaving a restaurant when employees feared he was intoxicated. He was arrested and his breath tests were found to be above the legal limit. The defence contended that the length of time required to obtain trial dates violated his 11(b) Charter rights. The judge agreed and the charges were stayed.

R. v. A.B.: The client was charged with drug-impaired driving. The defence filed a Charter application arguing that the police had violated the client’s rights in a variety of ways. At trial, the defence’s cross-examination of the arresting officer exposed severe problems in the Crown’s case. After considering the evidence overnight, the Crown asked for the charges to be withdrawn.

R. v. A.M.: The client was charged with Over 80. The matter was taken to trial, and the defence alleged a number of Charter violations. The arresting officers were cross-examined heavily, and ultimately all charges were dismissed.

R. v. H.J.: The client was arrested for with driving while impaired and “Over 80”. He was discovered asleep in the driver’s seat of his automobile on the shoulder of a highway. He provided breathalyzer readings that were higher than the legal limit. The defence filed an 11(b) Charter Application, asserting that the case had been unreasonably delayed. The Court agreed and the proceedings were stayed.

R. v. A.E.: The client was charged with Over 80 and impaired driving. He was located by his vehicle in an allegedly impaired state. After a thorough review of the disclosure, the defence was able to see that the police breached the accused’s right to counsel. This was brought up with the Crown in negotiations, and they ultimately agreed to withdraw the criminal charges.

R. v. S.M.: The client was arrested for failing to produce a breath sample, stunt driving, and exceeding the speed limit. At trial, the arresting officer’s investigation was undermined, and serious Charter issues were revealed. The judge dismissed all counts.

 R. v. J.D.: Client charged with Over 80. A trial was set, and after ongoing negotiations with the Crown, the charge was withdrawn.

 Disclaimer: Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Every case is unique.

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