Impaired Driving Offences
We understand that your driver’s licence is important. Often the ability to drive is the difference between earning a healthy living and unemployment. Having a conviction for a drug or alcohol-related driving offence can be devastating. People make mistakes, and it is our job as criminal lawyers to ensure that everything to save your licence and prevent you from obtaining a criminal record is done.
Weisberg Law will always do everything possible to resolve a drinking and driving offence without a trial and without a guilty plea to a criminal code offence. We have solved several impaired or alcohol-related driving offences for pleas to Highway Traffic Offences such as careless driving and has an excellent track record of success in winning impaired and over 80 trials.
Memories fade and evidence can go missing. Witnesses that remember what you drank the next morning will not remember three weeks later. It is imperative that you retain a criminal lawyer as soon as possible if you are charged with an alcohol-related criminal driving offence.
What is the Difference Between “Over 80” and Impaired Driving?
Over 80 is a reference to the amount of alcohol in the accused person’s blood and a short form for having over 80 milligrams of alcohol present in your system per 100 millilitres of blood. The police will determine if a person is “Over 80” either through a blood test or breathalyzer test. It does not matter if you the accused individual exhibit no signs of impairment. Simply having a blood alcohol level over 80 is a criminal offence.
Impaired Driving or Impaired Care and Control
Impaired driving charges are often based on the police officer observations of the accused person at the time of alleged driving or care and control of the motor vehicle. The Crown must prove that the accused person’s ability to operate the motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol or a drug. The manner of driving is often a basis for this charge. Physical observations also often ground these allegations such as swaying, unsteadiness, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, etc.
Refusing a Demand
In Canada, the penalty for refusing a demand is the same as being found to have been over 80. The demand made by police must still be lawful. There are a myriad of very technical defences that can be advanced by an experienced defence lawyer in these cases.
Consequences of an Alcohol-Related Driving Conviction
An alcohol or drug-related driving offence comes with serious consequences. These consequences extend far beyond the minimum fine of $1000 and conviction. There is also a minimum driving prohibition/suspension of one year for first-time offenders. Insurance rates will rise significantly, and those convicted of alcohol-related driving offences will have a criminal record. People convicted of these offences will also have to participate in an ignition interlock program and successfully complete a driver training/rehabilitation course put in place by the government. There have been some recent changes in Ontario that shorten the length of suspension from driving with the proper completion of an alcohol interlock program.
The case law in this technical area of the law is constantly evolving. Successfully defending an impaired or over 80 trial requires specialized expertise on behalf of the criminal lawyer.
In the last couple of years, several changes have occurred to Canadian law and law in Ontario as it relates to drinking and driving or drug-related driving offences. In 2008 this area of law had a major overhaul. Some of the most interesting changes were as follows:
- Officers were allowed to make demands upon individuals to provide screening samples or perform physical tests up to three hours after the operation of a motor vehicle (it used to be two hours).
- Physical tests for impairment by alcohol or drugs were made compulsory to allow officers the ability to form their grounds to make demands or take further action.
- Bodily fluid demands to test for drugs based on reasonable grounds after physical evaluation by an officer.
- New offence of Driving Over 80 causing bodily harm created (before it was just impaired operation causing bodily harm) and Refusing to Blow after Causing an Accident where there was bodily harm.
- Significant changes were made to limit the accused’s ability to challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer tests.
In Ontario, as of August 3rd, 2010, a new program was put into place that allows drivers to return to driving much earlier than before after a conviction. The minimum period under the new Ministry program that a driver will be suspended is three months followed by nine months of driving with an ignition interlock device if the driver pleads guilty within the first ninety days of being charged.
There are currently provisions in place on ignition interlock that have time limitations.
For detailed information about the new interlock device laws call Adam Weisberg at 416.605.4811.
Drinking and driving charges have many possible defences. Many of the defences are highly technical in nature, and some may require the expert evidence of a toxicologist. Often, applications under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are brought which may lead to exclusions of evidence resulting in an acquittal. Contact Adam Weisberg at 416.605.4811 so that he can determine the best defence to put forward.