If you are found guilty of impaired driving, you will face serious consequences, including the loss of your licence, heavy fines, demerit points on your licence, and even jail time. It’s important to work with a lawyer to have your best chance at avoiding these penalties if you are charged with impaired driving. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with impaired driving charges in Ontario.
What Are Impaired Driving Charges?
Impaired driving charges are criminal charges in Canada that occur when you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Specifically, impaired driving in Canada is considered operating a motor vehicle while you have more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in your system. If you get charged with impaired driving, there are three ways it can play out: either as a summary conviction or as an indictable offence in the Criminal Code, or as an offence against the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA). For example, if you are found guilty of impaired driving as a summary conviction, you could face up to two years in jail and a fine up to $5,000. For an indictable offence, however, penalties can be far greater—including imprisonment for up to 10 years and a minimum fine of $1,000. You will have a criminal record if you are convicted on a summary or indictable offence. If you are charged with an offence under the HTA, you will face immediate licence suspension but not a criminal record.
What Do Police Look For When They Pull Me Over And Suspect That I'm Impaired While Driving?
There is no surefire way of preventing an impaired driving charge. Regardless of how you operate your vehicle, there’s always a chance that a police officer could pull you over and suspect that you’re driving while intoxicated. However, knowing what police look for when they see someone behind the wheel who might be impaired can help you avoid these charges. For example, one telltale sign that an officer will watch out for is weaving between lanes or swerving across multiple lanes at once. This indicates that you’re not paying attention to your surroundings—and it could also indicate that you have consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. If a police officer suspects that you are impaired while driving, he or she will ask you to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). These tests are designed to gauge whether or not drivers are impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Can My License Be Taken Away From Me if I Am Found Guilty of an Impaired Charge?
Yes, your licence can be taken away. If you are found guilty of a criminal impaired driving charge, your licence can be taken away from you as part of your sentence. The length of time that it is taken away depends on if it’s a first offence or a repeat offence. If it’s a first offence, you may lose your licence for at least one year. If it’s a repeat offence, you could lose your licence for at least three years. A third conviction within 10 years may lead to a lifetime licence suspension. Additionally, there are other penalties that come along with being convicted of impaired driving charges. For example, there may be fines associated with these charges—the amount varies depending on how severe your case is—and you could also face jail time. Jail sentences range from zero days to 10 years depending on how serious your case is. Lastly, if your blood alcohol concentration is particularly high, you will face more severe penalties.
Where Can I Get More Information About Impairment And Other Drug-Related Laws In Ontario?
If you’re charged with impaired driving, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with various aspects of impairment and other drug-related laws in Ontario, as they apply directly to your case. Start by looking at section 320.14(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code, which explains impaired driving offences. It also outlines penalties if you are convicted of impaired driving. Section 320.17 explains how police define different types of impairment and how they test for them. Next, look into impaired driving charges in Ontario specifically. For example, check out impaired driving charges under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA). While these charges differ from those under Canada’s Criminal Code, they can still have an impact on your case. If you are charged under the HTA, your licence may be suspended and you will not face jail time. If, on the other hand, you are charged under the Criminal Code, you will face fines and jail time. You should also check the Ontario Guide for Defendants in Provincial Offences Cases, as it contains a lot of valuable information which can help you decide what is the best course of action when defending yourself in court.
Why Do I Have To Go To Court?
In Canada, impaired driving charges (which includes driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol) can result in harsh consequences. If you are criminally charged with impaired driving, the prosecution has determined there is a substantial likelihood that you will be convicted. Therefore, you have to appear in court on the day you are scheduled to respond to your charges.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Avoid Going To Court?
Going to court is one of those things nobody wants, so if you find yourself facing impaired driving charges, chances are you’re looking for anything you can do to avoid going. If you hire a lawyer to take on your case, your lawyer can appear in front of the court on your behalf. There are also several ways to resolve your case if you don’t want to go through a trial. You could make a deal with the prosecution that allows you to take an impaired driving course or do community service instead—both of which may result in your charges being withdrawn. If it comes down to it, there’s always pleading guilty and asking for leniency from the judge at sentencing time (although we don’t recommend doing that unless absolutely necessary, and make sure you get advice from a lawyer before pleading guilty!).
What Happens If I Don't Show Up In Court?
If you don’t show up for your impaired driving trial, it could result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. Whether or not you've decided to fight your charges, it's important that you let your lawyer know if there's any reason why you may not be able to attend court on a particular day. It's also worth noting that if you're found guilty of impaired driving, you will likely have a criminal record. This can impact everything from employment opportunities to travel and immigration status.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Every impaired driving case is different, and for the best chance of avoiding a criminal record you should hire a lawyer as soon as you can. Finding an attorney who has experience in your unique situation and can help you get back on track after your impaired driving charge does not have to be difficult. How do you go about finding such an attorney? Ask friends and family if they know someone. Post to social media or call local law firms to see if any have had experience with clients in similar situations as yours. You may even want to look at online reviews and ratings for specific lawyers to see what others say about them! Whatever way you find your lawyer, make sure to find one who can connect you with a good criminal defence lawyer in Toronto immediately. After all, time is of the essence when facing an impaired driving charge!
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