Impaired driving (DUI/DWI)

Impaired driving (DUI / DWI) Featured Image

In most cases, the consequences of impaired driving can be very serious and dangerous. Usually, impaired driving cases occur due to some sort of drug or intoxicants.

The circumstances of impaired driving can be two, one is driving under the influence, and another is driving while intoxicated. Since the consequences of impaired driving are very severe, the criminal codes are also very strict in this regard.

So, in this article, let us know the criminal code of impaired driving in Canada and every detail about it. Read the entire article to learn more.

What is exactly impaired driving?

According to the Canadian criminal code, impaired driving refers to when the driver is driving under any influence of drugs and intoxicants or driving while intoxicated. Impaired driving will be considered if you are found with any of the following:

  1. If you are found intoxicated by any sorts of drugs or alcohol or both of them.
  2. Any intoxication will fall under this category if your senses get affected by it.

In some cases, the driver does not need to cross the blood drug limit for impaired driving. No matter how much substance the driver consumed or what type of intoxicant they consumed, if the driver is affected by it and it caused bad driving, the driver will be charged with impaired driving.

Criminal codes for impaired driving:

If the police charge you or your loved one for impaired driving, it is important to know the basic criminal codes for impaired driving in Canada. The level of criminal charges or penalties will depend on the seriousness of the situation.

Sometimes, you may charge with more than one criminal charge. You can also check out Canada’s cannabis law and a driving section for more detailed information. But If you are found by the police in the state intoxicated, then you may charge with the following criminal offenses:

  • When you are driving more than 80km/h of speed, you will be charged for exceeding the blood-drug limit according to section 320.14 (1) (b).
  • When you are insisting on driving while exceeding the blood-drug limit according to section 320.14 (1) (c).
  • Failure to stop the car when needed according to the 320.15 section of the criminal code.
  • Reckless driving according to section 320.13
  • Criminal negligence, according to section 219 (1)
  • Driving without any legal permission or license according to section 320.18
  • Failure to stop the car after any vehicle accident according to section 320.16

How do the police understand whether you are intoxicated or not?

According to the Canadian traffic law, the traffic police has the right to stop the cars for any inquiries. For example, the police have the right to ask the driver if they are on any type of intoxicants or not. Sometimes, you are not obliged to answer all those questions.

Generally, it is wise to avoid those questions to avoid any hostile situation. But you need to provide the necessary documents like driver’s license, car ownership, and other papers to the police. The police officers have their unique ways of finding out whether someone is impaired or not.

Let us discuss them in the following:

1. Roadside observational tests by the police:

This is one of the most common tests by the police if you are suspected of any intoxicants. In some cases, you may not be able to seek help from a criminal lawyer before the roadside test.

So, usually, in the roadside test, the police will try to observe you by several factors and tests. they are in the following:

  • your primary appearance
  • how you are answering the given questions
  • the physical movements
  • if there are any smells of any drugs or intoxicants
  • alcohol tests by breath screening
  • saliva sample test, and so on.

In some cases, the driver may require to go through a mandatory roadside breath test by the police. And this test will show whether intoxicants impair the driver or not. The police can take this test in the police check post to seem suspect or violate any other traffic rules.

2. Tests in the police station:

This type of test is more accurate than the roadside observational test by the police. When you are arrested for impaired driving, you may need to go through another test in the police station.

In that case, you can seek help from a criminal lawyer if you want. These types of further testing may include:

  • the evidence that is found in the roadside tests
  • the evidence that is found in the breathing test
  • Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE)
  • Blood sample test and so on.

One important thing you need to remember is that if you refuse to give all those impaired evaluation tests, you may go through some other criminal charges. And these criminal charges are mentioned in the criminal code offense section of failure or refusal to comply (320.15).

Penalties and punishments for impaired driving:

You may charge with the Highway Traffic Act or the Canadian criminal code if you are convicted of impaired driving. Sometimes, you may get accused of both of them. And no matter what is the criminal charges are, you may have to go through some penalties by the criminal code of Canada.

Punishments under the Canadian highway traffic acts:

If you are found driving under the influence of any drugs like cannabis, cocaine, you will be charged by the criminal code of Canada. Whether you are a fully licensed driver or not, you shall get the penalties under the Canadian highway traffic Act if you are convicted of impaired driving.

We can categorize the penalties into two types. One is the immediate penalty, and another is the additional penalty. The immediate penalties may include the following:

  • License suspension for 90 days
  • A $550 fine for violating the traffic rules
  • A $275 fee for renewing the license
  • Your vehicle may get seized by the police for one week
  • Immediate and mandatory training sessions for the driver.

Additional penalties under the Canadian highway traffic acts:

In some cases, the duration and level of the punishment can be increased. It will depend on certain factors. For example, if you are charged for impaired driving for the first time, then the level of penalty will be the immediate and regular one.

If you are found intoxicated while driving for the second or third time, the penalty will be very severe. Some of the additional penalties are given in the following:

  • License suspension for one year.
  • If you are found guilty for the second time, the license may get suspended for five years.
  • If this happens for the third time or more, the license may get suspended for a lifetime.
  • You may go through a mandatory treatment session and an educational program.

When does the penalty get increased?

There are some cases where the penalties may increase if you fail to follow certain things. And these will be considered as other criminal charges.

Those cases are given in the following:

  • There is a standard blood alcohol concentration level in your body. The standard is 0.05 to 0.8mg of alcohol in every 100mg of blood. This is also called the ‘warn range’ of your body. If you exceed this range, it may increase the level of the penalty.
  • There is a required age for alcohol and drug zero tolerance. And this age is 21 or above. If you violate this rule, it also may increase the level of your punishment.
  • If you fail to have Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), it may also increase the level of the penalty.

You need to remember if you fail to maintain any of these factors mentioned above, your penalty will be increased. And the level of increase is subject to your situation. However, it may increase in the following manners:

Penalties for first-time offense:

If you are convicted for the first time, your license may seize or be suspense for 3 days by the police. In some cases, you may need to pay fines as a penalty. The average fine would be $250 for the first-time offense.

Penalties for the second time offense:

If you are convicted for the second time, the license may get suspended for 7 days, and the average fine would be $350. In these 7 days, you will not be able to appeal to the court. But if you are a commercial driver, the suspension period would be 3 days or less.

Penalties for the third time offense:

At this time, the license would be suspended for one month. The average fine would be $450. Additionally, you need to submit some important papers to the official authority, such as your medical evaluation, training season certificate, and so on.

Every time when your license is suspended, you may need to pay an additional $280 as a license reinstatement fee.

Punishments under the Canadian criminal code:

Whether you are convicted of drugs or alcohol, both will be considered for impaired driving. The criminal charges will fall under the Canadian criminal code 320.14 section. The average penalty for such an offense include the following:

  • If you are convicted for the first time, you may need to pay a fine of $1,000.
  • If you are convicted for the second time, you may need to go through imprisonment for one month.
  • For the third time offense, the imprisonment may get increased to 120 days.
  • In some exceptional cases, imprisonment may go up to several years.

Suspension of the license under the Canadian criminal code:

If you are found guilty for the first time, your license may get suspended for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 3 years.

If you do the same thing for the second time, the license will get suspended for a minimum of 2 years. Your license may get suspended for 3 years or a lifetime at maximum for the third time or subsequent time.

What if you violate the probation for a DIU charge?

Let’s say the court gives you a probation order for a DIU charge. Now, what if you violate that probation? Well, you need to understand what the violation of probation is. For example, if you fail to appear in court in time or possess any drug or alcohol again.

In such cases, it will be considered a violation of probation. And if you violate the probation, you may charge with some serious criminal offense. So, in that case, it is better to seek a professional lawyer to help as early as you can.

Zero tolerance rules for the young and commercial drivers:

Generally, zero-tolerance rules for impaired driving are applicable for drivers under 21 years old, novice, and commercial drivers.

No matter the class of your license, if you are convicted of impaired driving and fall under the zero-tolerance category, the penalty would be very severe.

For instance, the license may get suspended for 30 days. And you may need to pay a fine of $100 to $600. In some cases, if you are a commercial driver, your license may get suspended for a lifetime under the Canadian criminal code.

What about medical cannabis users?

Some people are legally authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes. In such cases, those people may get exempted from the zero-tolerance drug rules for the young. But all the criminal codes of Canada will be applicable for those people too.

Even though someone is using cannabis for medical or professional purposes, it is their responsibility to ensure the safety of others on the road. In other words, no one has the authority to drive a car being impaired or intoxicated on the road.

How does a criminal law expert help you?

If you are found guilty of impaired driving, you may need to deal with many things. First and foremost, in an accident case for impaired driving, the insurance company will not cover the damages you had in the accident. In such cases, you may not be eligible for any insurance settlement.

But in that case, a professional lawyer can help you deal with the police and the insurance company. Sometimes, you also may need to erase your criminal record. In such cases, a criminal lawyer can assist you with proper guidance.

Bottom line:

The consequences of impaired driving can be very serious and complex. Dealing with such cases is not as easy as you think. You may need to go through a lot of legal processes and documentation. Sometimes, if you fail to follow all those legal processes correctly, the court decision will not be in your favor.

That is why, if you or your loved one is also going through the same situation, you should not waste any time. You should seek help from an expert lawyer in this regard. Hopefully, from this writing, you have gotten a detailed idea of the Impaired driving criminal code of Canada.

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