What is Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is a specific offence under the Canadian Criminal Code which is laid when someone is found to be drinking and driving.  Impaired driving is more commonly referred to driving under the influence (DUI), driving while impaired (DWI), or drunk driving. 

I’ve been charged with impaired driving and driving with over 80.
What happens now?

If you have been charged with a charge of impaired driving or failing the breathzlyer your first step should be to consult with a lawyer.  The defence of breathalyzer cases can be complex and technical because of the rules outlined in the Criminal Code dealing with the admissibility of the certificate with the breath readings.  Police officers frequently make mistakes in following these rules which may provide an accused with a defence which an experienced criminal defence lawyer can make in court.  There is no such thing as an automatic conviction simply because you have failed the breathalyzer.

I’ve been charged with Refusal, What happens now?

There is no automatic conviction for a charge of refusal and the burden is on the police to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.  The penalties for a charge of refusal are the same as the penalties for a conviction of impaired driving or failing the breathalyzer.

Experienced criminal defence lawyers examine every detail of an individual’s encounter with the police to determine how to defend a refusal charge.
If I plead “Guilty”, what are the consequences?

The consequences of a conviction for impaired driving and related offences are extremely serious and long lasting:

  • You get a criminal record which will stay with you for the rest of your life unless you can apply for and receive a pardon;
  • You will receive a stiff fine and possibly go to jail if you have a prior conviction for impaired driving or a related offence;
  • You will lose your driving license for at least one year and possibly longer;
  • Your automobile insurance rates will skyrocket and could cost you $10,000.00 or more per year for at least three years once your insurance company becomes aware of your conviction;
  • You may be refused entry into the United States and other countries because of your criminal record;
You may lose your job if your employment requires the operation of any motorized vehicle, which includes aircraft and boats.
Given the seriousness  of the consequences of a conviction for impaired driving and related offences, you should never plead “Guilty” to these charges without first discussing your case with a lawyer who has experience in defending against these serious criminal charges.
What will happen to my Driver’s licence?

If you are stopped for impaired driving, there are usually immediate consequences.  Even if you pass the breathalyzer, if your reading is above .05, you may still face a lisence suspension of 24 hours.

If you have reading of over .08, or are charged with refusal, your driver’s licence will be suspended for a minimum of three months pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Act in Nova Scotia. This suspension is automatic and occurs even though you have not been convicted of an offence.  Your licence will not automatically be reinstated after the passage of the three months.  You will be required to take and pass a course administered by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
If convicted, the Criminal Code requires the revocation of a driver's licence or driving privileges.   A person whose driver's license is revoked cannot apply to have the licence restored until a minimum of one year has expired (for a first offence); two years have expired (for a second offence); or five years (for a subsequent offence).
What is the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program?

The ignition interlock is blood alcohol screening device which is placed in your car and connected to your vehicle’s ignition system.  Once installed it prevents the operation of a motor vehicle if a driver’s blood alcohol is over a pre-set limit. Once the vehicle has started the driver is required to provide random samples of breath during travel. 

A person convicted of impaired driving may qualify to apply for ignition interlock after a period of time has passed under suspension. This program can be quite costly.  There is a program fee, an installation fee and a monthly monitoring fee.