Ottawa DUI Lawyer
Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have devastating consequences. Because of the potential for human and property loss, prosecutors in recent years have upped their rigour in pursuing and prosecuting these criminal charges. Whether called driving while impaired, driving under the influence, “over 80” or impaired driving, a conviction can mean a criminal record, loss of driving privileges, fines, mandatory driver education classes, and even jail time. Afterwards, there is the inevitable increase in insurance rates.
Even responsible drivers sometimes misjudge their ability to drive. Experienced and effective criminal defence lawyers know how to defend these charges to preserve the liberty of the driver and the right to retain a driver’s license. Now is the time to call Auger Hollingsworth to protect your rights.
Types of DUI Charges
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be observed by the police or civilians through erratic driving manoeuvres, weaving, drifting over the centre line, violating speed or turning rules, or causing an accident. Once stopped by a police officer, red eyes, flushed face, the smell of alcohol or marijuana, lack of coordination, and slurred speech are all indicators of what could be intoxication.
Drivers with blood alcohol levels over 80 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood can be arrested and charged with a serious criminal offence. Blood alcohol levels are measured by either blood samples or an intoxilyzer test. First offence penalties are hefty. The minimum sentence requires license suspension for 1 year and a fine of at least $1,000. Second offences impose a 3-year license suspension and a jail sentence of 30 days. A third offence requires an end to driving privileges for life and a jail sentence of 120 days. Imagine the impact of losing driving privileges on your ability to make a living!
Refusal for Testing
A driver must submit to a request to take a roadside breath sample test and an intoxilyzer test. A refusal to submit to either of these tests is treated as if the driver was operating the vehicle with a blood alcohol level of over .80. A refusal to submit will not negate the authority of the officer to arrest the driver. An arrest can be lawfully made based on observations of inebriation: slurred words, flushed face, staggering, and inability to follow instructions.
What Happens After a Person is Charged with an Offence?
The arresting officer will provide the driver with a Promise to Appear, which might also require a separate appointment for fingerprints on another specific date. Failure to appear for fingerprints will result in additional criminal charges. If charged as a second driving under the influence offence, the arresting officer will issue a Notice of Application for Increased Penalty. The prior conviction serves as support for a jail term and longer license suspension. A 90-day administrative licence suspension, the breath certificate, and a computer printout of the intoxilyzer readings are also issued to the driver at the time of the charge.
Additional paperwork is generated to support a charge of driving under the influence. This disclosure packet includes: a criminal information, a summary of the interaction between the police and the driver, detailed police and witness statements, detailed police notes, a Certificate of Analysis, and an Alcohol Influence Report. Many police departments now videotape the roadside breath sample test process and the confrontation with police to preserve the record for later challenges.
An experienced criminal defence lawyer assembles this evidence to examine each to discern whether the traffic stop was lawful and all the constitutional safeguards were followed by the police during the encounter and arrest.
Can Police Arrest Me Without a Roadside Breath Sample?
The simple answer is yes, but the circumstances of the stop must be evaluated to determine the validity of the arrest.
If police observe signs of impaired driving—erratic driving manoeuvres, weaving, drifting over the centre line, violating speed or turning rules, or causing an accident—they can arrest without administering a roadside breath sample.
However, if police merely have a subjective suspicion of intoxication, then a roadside breath sample test must be administered before arrest. The smell of alcohol or the driver admitting to drinking is not enough to justify arrest without testing.
Penalties for Impaired Driving Charges
Penalties increase with severity of the impairment and the number of times the driver has been caught driving under the influence.
- 1-year driver’s licence suspension
- A minimum fine of $1,000
- A 3-year driver’s licence suspension
- A jail sentence of 30 days
- A lifelong driving prohibition
- A jail sentence of 120 days
In addition to the penalties of loss of driving privileges and fines, a conviction for a driving under the influence offence also carries with it the stigma of a criminal conviction and increased insurance rates. And there is the cost of participating in the mandatory driving education course, Back on Track. A driver will be charged to enroll in this mandatory training, with hefty tuition fees, over $600. Some drivers are required to install an ignition interlock system on their cars, which also involves a costly monthly rental fee.
Defences for Impaired Driving Charges
Defending a charge of impaired driving is often technical, depending on the facts surrounding the police stop and arrest. A defence to the charge can arise from a variety of factors. Factual defences might include:
- A driver might mistakenly believe that the effects of drinking have subsided and that it was safe to drive. Testimony as to how long the driver waited and how the driver waited might mitigate a charge of driving under the influence.
- The driver might have been forced to take the wheel under duress or necessity.
- A driver might not know that she or he is intoxicated, having consumed an intoxicant unknowingly.
There are also technical defences to a charge of driving while impaired:
- The arrest was itself improper and lacked reasonable suspicion.
- The roadside breath sample test might have been improperly administered and read.
- The intoxilyzer test might have been improperly administered or read, and the equipment improperly maintained and cleaned.
- The blood test might be challenged for improper handling.
Why Do You Need an Experienced Ottawa DUI Lawyer?
The impact of a driving while impaired conviction can be far-reaching—loss of driving privileges, fines, costly mandatory driver education courses, and rental of an ignition control device. And then there is the stigma of a criminal conviction that can diminish your job, education, and housing opportunities, compounded by more expensive automobile insurance. To minimize the impact of these charges, you need to retain the services of an experienced and competent criminal defence lawyer with a deep and profound knowledge of the law, the players, and the possible defences.
Contact our Ottawa DUI Lawyers Today
Choosing an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation, we will:
- Review the criminal charges or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
- We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
- If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.
Call (613) 699-8192 today to schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.