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DUI / Impaired driving

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in impaired driving arrests in Quebec. Our federal and provincial institutions have taken the matter very seriously and have decided to act. A direct aftermath has been to implement harsh penalties following a conviction. In case of an arrest for DUI, due to either alcohol or drug intoxication, it is crucial to consult a specialized lawyer and be informed of the possible consequences that such a conviction may bring. We have listed below the main offences concerning drinking and driving, as well as some of the consequences that may be associated with them.

Charges related to impaired driving

Without making an exhaustive list, here are the main charges brought in relation to impaired driving and the potential associated consequences.

01 | Driving while impaired

Many people are unaware that an individual may be found guilty of driving his vehicle while impaired, even if his blood alcohol level is below the legal limit of 80mg of alcohol / 100ml of blood (0.08). This charge aims to reprimand a driver whose abilities are impaired by the effects of alcohol. In other words, the alcohol may have produced a decrease in their ability to operate a motor vehicle. Such weakening can be shown by evidence of bad driving and various other symptoms of impairment, including but not limited to, difficulty to stand or walk, slurred speech, slow movements and bloodshot eyes. The impairment does not have to reach a particular degree. Indeed, the courts have repeatedly confirmed that in order to get a conviction, the Crown attorney does not have to prove a marked departure from the norm, but rather some degree of impairment, ranging from slight to great, of the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle. For a first offence, the sentence usually imposed by the court will be a one-year driving prohibition, accompanied by a fine.

02 | Driving under the influence of alcohol

The most common offence is driving a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit of 80mg of alcohol / 100ml of blood (0.08). The usual penalty for a first offence is a fine. The fines imposed by the court will vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the arrest (if there is an accident, for instance, the file will increase), but also on the blood alcohol level. An important note: while the court generally imposes a one-year prohibition for a first offence, the penalties at the SAAQ will be greater if the blood alcohol level exceeds twice the legal limit. Longer driving prohibitions will be imposed.

03 | Care and control charge

The charge of care and control of a motor vehicle refers to the superintendence or management of the vehicle, by a person whose faculties are impaired by alcohol, or whose blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit. For example, an individual who is intoxicated behind the wheel may be charged with this offence, even if the police officers have never seen them drive the vehicle.  The sentences are generally the same penalties as the ones imposed for DUI.

Other offences related to the use of a vehicle

There is a myriad of other related offences, such as refusal or failure to undergo a screening test or a breathalyzer, hit and run, evading police and dangerous driving. For each of these offences, it is important to remember that, in addition to the penalties imposed by the courts, the SAAQ will treat the file according to its own rules, thus imposing driving prohibitions that are often greater than those imposed by the court. Often, these prohibitions do not allow an individual to apply for a restricted licence.

Your record’s influence on impaired driving

Repeat offenders will face greater consequences both in court and at the SAAQ. They will often be exposed to a minimum jail sentence and much longer driving prohibitions.

Why consult a criminal lawyer following a DUI offence?

For all offences related to impaired driving or care and control of a motor vehicle, it is important to retain the services of a specialized attorney to discuss the matter and verify if a defence strategy is possible in order to avoid the consequences of a conviction, or alternatively to ensure that these consequences are reduced.

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