Best Criminal Defence Lawyer - Karapancev Law

Is DUI a Criminal Offence in Canada

Driving under the influence (DUI), commonly referred to as impaired driving, is a grave concern that poses significant risks to the safety of individuals and the general public. In many countries, DUI is classified differently depending on its legal framework. So, how does Canada view DUIs, and is it considered a felony or a criminal offence?

What does “DUI” Mean in Canada?

In Canada, DUI is often termed as “impaired driving.” It means operating a vehicle (which includes cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles, and off-road vehicles) while one’s ability to do so has been compromised by alcohol, drugs, or both.

Is DUI a Criminal Offence in Canada?

Yes, in Canada, DUI is considered a criminal offence. The Criminal Code of Canada categorizes impaired driving as a serious crime. When someone is charged with a DUI, they aren’t just facing a simple traffic violation or a provincial offence; they are in fact being accused of a criminal act. This distinction is important because of the weight a criminal charge carries regarding penalties, future travel, and potential impacts on one’s record.

Penalties for DUI in Canada:

Being convicted of impaired driving in Canada can lead to:

  • A significant monetary penalty;
  • Suspension of driver’s license;
  • Possibility of imprisonment, especially for repeat offenders or if the impaired driving resulted in bodily harm or death;
  • Requirement to participate in a DUI education program or treatment program;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device in the offender’s vehicle.

Does a DUI Count as a Felony in Canada?

The term “felony” isn’t used in the Canadian legal system. Instead, Canada categorizes criminal offences as either “summary” or “indictable”. Impaired driving can be prosecuted either way, depending on the circumstances and severity of the offence. While less serious instances might be treated as summary offences, DUIs that cause injury or death are often prosecuted as indictable offences, which are similar to what might be called “felonies” in other jurisdictions.

Long-Term Implications of a DUI Conviction:

A DUI conviction can have lasting implications in Canada. It can affect one’s ability to travel abroad, especially to countries like the United States depending on how many convictions you have. It can also impact job opportunities, especially if driving is a required job function or if a clean criminal record is a prerequisite. Moreover, insurance premiums can significantly rise after a DUI conviction.


While DUI laws and their implications can vary worldwide, in Canada, a DUI is treated as a serious criminal offence. If you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge, it’s crucial to understand the gravity of the situation and to seek guidance from a knowledgeable DUI lawyer in Toronto or wherever you reside. Navigating the legal system can be daunting, but with expert support, you can understand your rights and potential defences.

Facing DUI Charges?

A DUI conviction in Canada can have long-standing ramifications on your life. At Karapancev Law, we specialize in DUI cases and can provide the expertise you need. As a leading DUI lawyer in Toronto, we stand ready to support and guide you during such challenging times. Reach out to us for assistance tailored to your situation.

Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev is a Toronto criminal lawyer practicing throughout the province of Ontario. He regularly serves as lead trial counsel on serious and complex criminal cases. He is the founder of Karapancev Law, a law firm representing clients facing criminal charges, regulatory offences, and professional discipline proceedings.

Mr. Karapancev has acted as counsel in hundreds of cases throughout the province of Ontario, regularly representing clients at trials, applications, bail hearings and preliminary inquiries. He is regularly retained to defend individuals charged with serious allegations of fraud, drug trafficking, DUI offences, domestic assault, and sexual assault. Prior to founding his law firm, Mr. Karapancev practiced criminal defence at a boutique Toronto law firm and also served as a per diem Crown prosecutor.

Top Rated Toronto Criminal Defence Lawyers

Results matter. A reputation built on winning. Karapancev Law Is Ready to Fight for You!