Driving under the influence (DUI) as a drunk driver can also be described as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or drunk driving. The Government of Ontario refers to this charge as impaired driving, but the substance is the same as it would be under any other name. Drunk driving of any motor vehicle is a serious charge with damaging potential consequences that can affect your lifestyle for years into the future. According to the provincial government, “Ontario is a leader in combating impaired driving through some of the toughest laws and programs in North America.” The potential consequences stemming from driving under the influence of alcohol include fines, vehicle impoundment, licence suspension, and even jail time, depending on your blood-alcohol level.
There are a lot of complex feelings that can come up after a DUI car accident, including fear and confusion. If you’re coming to grips with a recent charge relating to an impaired driving crash, take these steps to reduce potential fallout in the near term and prevent further impaired driving charges in the future.
1. Understand the Legal Basics
Other than personal injury, you may not walk away from your DUI accident knowing much about what the police have charged with or why. Getting some clarity on this can The Criminal Code of Canada outlines the specifics relating to a DUI accident charge and they may surprise you. Impaired driving charges don’t just apply to intoxicated operators of cars or trucks. Drivers who operate boats, snowmobiles, and off-road vehicles while impaired are subject to the same laws.
Consequences for impaired driving vary based on age. Adults age 21 and older who are not new drivers can have a small quantity of alcohol detectable in their blood and not be charged with impaired driving. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08 for adults, though if your roadside breath test registers .05-.07, you’re within the legal “warn range” and can still face penalties. Novice drivers of any age and all drivers under age 21 cannot have any detectable alcohol in their system. If you blow even a .01, you’ll likely be charged with impaired driving.
Refusing a roadside breath test isn’t a suitable way to get out of trouble in these cases. You are allowed to refuse a test but, if you do, the Government of Ontario states that you’ll suffer the same consequences as a person who’s over the .08 legal BAC limit. It’s actually worth it to take the test because your BAC may be lower than the .08 limit, which means you would face a lighter set of consequences than you would have if you refused.
2. Hire a Lawyer
Because the penalties for this offence are so stiff, it’s best to have a lawyer in your corner to help. Though there’s no guarantee, a lawyer may well be able to have charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely. It’s rare to have charges dismissed outright, but it can happen. An experienced lawyer will know what to look for and, when appropriate, how to make a successful argument in favour of dismissal.
A lawyer can also help you understand the legal basics and be aware of potential long-term consequences. In other words, taking this step lets you kill three birds with one stone. A good lawyer should listen to your concerns and answer your questions in a way that makes sense to you. Getting your information directly from a knowledgeable source is the best way to truly understand what you’re faced with. Online research can give you some basic information, but it's best to have a lawyer assess your situation and explain everything you need to know.
Lawyers aren’t just there to handle the court procedural process. They should also provide legal counsel for you in a way that you understand. That’s why it’s important to find a trustworthy lawyer you feel comfortable talking to. Your lawyer is often the key to your ability to understand the charges against you and, after your day in court, what the outcomes are. The legal process can be extremely confusing and difficult to keep track of, but when you have our law firm on your side, you have a professional team that’s well equipped to handle your case from start to finish.
3. Avoid a Second Offence
DUI accidents can result from a one-time error in judgement and, in these cases, it can be easy to avoid a second offence by instituting some simple behavioural changes. For those who don’t suffer from an addiction or dependency, the solution is simple: don’t get drunk or use intoxicating drugs before driving a motorized vehicle in Ontario.
To make this possible, you should have a plan for getting home from a friend’s house or a bar after going out for drinks. Don’t drive yourself, even if you think you’re sober. Alcohol reduces our ability to make well-informed decisions, so don’t put yourself in the position where you might accidentally make the wrong decision. Leave your car at home make taking taxis or appointing a designated driver part of your regular social habits instead.
Though offences aren’t always a sign of health or substance abuse issues they do offer the opportunity for some reflection and evaluation. While a DUI accident isn’t a 100% reliable sign of health issues, many people charged with this offence do decide to get sober as a result. If your impaired driving charge resulted from a period of heavy drinking or drug use that’s becoming part of a pattern you feel you can’t control, it’s worth seeking help so you can address the root of the problem.
If you do have a drug or alcohol dependency problem, simply following the steps listed above may not be enough to safeguard against the possibility of additional offences. Getting to the root of the problem will allow you to move forward with your without free from the burden of addiction or dependency. Your risk of DUI-related arrest will dramatically decline as you come to grips with your healthcare issues and make healthy choices for your future.