Criminal Code DUI charges are often one or both of (1) Driving while over the legal imit of 80 or (2) Driving while one’s ability is impaired by alcohol or a drug. Beyond the shock of a charge and the effects of the 90 day Adminstrative Driver’s Licence Suspension, the questions commonly faced are “What can be done?”, “How does the law work?”,”Can I somehow get my licence back?”, “Do I have a defence?”, “What do I do at court?”, “Do I have to attend to give fingerprints and have a mug shot taken?”
Although impairment to drive is generally more easily understood, the over 80 charge is fraught with misundertsandings and is very technical in a both legal and scientific aspects. As a starting point, let’s take these one at a time:
Yes, a person charged must attend to have fingerprints and photograph taken as often directed in the Promise to Appear or other documents provided on release;
A person cannot drive without a valid driver’s licence. There are only very limited circumstances where are appeal can be made to regain a driver’s licence from the initial suspension;
If a lawyer is retained, a Designation form can be signed and filed at court and the lawyer can attend in place of the client until directed otherwise and obtain Disclosure – all available paperwork and video from the Crown Attorney;
A proper case assessment should be completed to determine what defences may be available. Ideally, this should be done as a soon as possible and particularly within the initial 90 days from being charged. This should also take into account all available information, legal issues and an expert analysis of the of breath instruments and procedures involved;
If you proceed to trial, the case may generally take an additional 4 to 9 months and you may be able to get your licence back after the intitial 90 days and payment of the reinstatement fee;
If you decide to proceed to plead guilty, legal prohibitions and suspensions must be carefully reviewed and understood to prevent suspension stacking as much as possible. There are also substantial increases in insurance costs upon a DUI conviction as much a double and triple current insurance rates for the next 3 to 5 years.
My approach as a specialist in criminal law is to conduct a thorough assessment and provide you with an understandable opinion as to the merits that may exist for a defence from which you can make an informed decision. My professional opinion allows you to know what you really have to face and avoids you unknowingly throwing away your rights and walking into serious future consequences. The law in this area has substantially changed and been clarified by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. St. Onge Lamoureux https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/12655/1/document.do with controversy remaining particularly in Ontario around disclosure issues related to the breathalyser machine used by various police services. Like fixing an engine problem with a car, DUI is seldom, if ever, DIY.