In Canada, a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is considered to be a serious crime and involves some serious penalties. These penalties can include hefty fines, jail time, loss of driver’s license, and the impounding of your vehicle.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, your first step should be to contact a lawyer who can properly advise you based on the details of the case. Otherwise, it’s important to understand what DUI charges and the penalties you could be facing:

Driving While Impaired By Alcohol or Drugs

Under the Canadian Criminal Code, section 320.14 specifies a DUI as operating a vehicle while having consumed alcohol or drugs (or a combination of the two) to the point that your ability to operate your vehicle safely was affected.

While blood-alcohol levels and blood-drug limits are used to determine if you are, in fact, inebriated, you do not have to exceed them to be charged with impaired driving. The only requirement of an impaired driving charge is that your ability to drive was affected.

Police use a series of tests to determine if you are driving while impaired such as roadside tests that take into account your physical movement, the smell of alcohol, and a breath-screening test.

If you are found to be driving while impaired, you could face criminal charges.

What Happens If You Refuse to Provide a Breath or Blood Sample?

Under the law, police have the right to stop vehicles at any time and inquire if they have consumed alcohol or drugs. While you are not required to answer these questions, it is recommended that you comply.

If the police suspect that you are impaired, they can authorize sobriety tests and ask for bodily fluid samples as well as a mandatory breath test. Due to recent changes in the Criminal Code, officers no longer have to suspect you of being impaired to demand a breath test.

Before performing any roadside tests, you do not have the right to consult a lawyer. However, if you are arrested and taken to the police station, you do have the right to have a lawyer present.

Refusing to provide a breath or blood test, or perform a sobriety test, can lead to charges – specifically, the offence of failure or refusal to comply with demand (section 320.15 of the Criminal Code). 

It is always recommended that you provide a requested sample. There’s a chance you could be under the limit and avoid charges. Otherwise, if you are over the limit and refuse, you can compromise your defenses in court.

Even if you feel the demand for samples isn’t lawful, it’s best to comply and let your lawyer determine whether the demand was lawful or not.

Impaired Driving That Causes Bodily Harm or Death

In the best-case scenarios, impaired drivers are caught and charged without anyone getting hurt. Unfortunately, there are many instances where DUIs lead to bodily harm and even death.

In the case of impaired driving causing bodily harm, the impaired driver can be found guilty of an indictable offence and imprisoned for up to 10 years.

If someone were to die as the result of a DUI, the impaired driver is liable to life in prison.

Bail Hearings and DUI’s

If you are arrested for a DUI and charged with a criminal offence, it’s possible that the police may release you with a legal expectation to attend a trial on the date provided.

Otherwise, you will be held in custody and taken to court where a justice of the peace will decide if you should be released. This is a bail hearing and is typically accompanied by a list of conditions that you must follow.

Prior to appearing before the justice of the peace, it is imperative that you contact a lawyer to represent you and protect your rights during your bail hearing.