DUI & Driving Offences

Impaired Driving / Over 80 [C.C. s 253]

It is an offence to operate a motor vehicle (or have care or control of a motor vehicle, whether or not it is in motion) while

(a) the person's ability to operate the vehicle is impaired by drugs or alcohol; or

(b) the person consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person's blood exceeds eighty milligram of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood (i.e. BAC > 0.08%).

It is important to note that, on account of the Kienapple principle, you cannot be convicted of both Impaired Driving and Over 80 with respect to the same incident (though you may initially be charged with both offences).

Impaired Driving and Over 80, commonly classed as "drunk driving" or "Driving Under the Influence (DUI)" offences, can be very technical in nature. As such, it is important you consult an experienced DUI lawyer before deciding to plead guilty. There are often many defences that can be raised to challenge the accuracy of the breathalyser and the manner in which the police obtained the breath sample. Toronto DUI & Impaired Driving lawyer Daniel Freudman is able to effectively argue these defences, and where appropriate, raise Charter violation issues which could lead to exclusion of the evidence (i.e. the breath sample would be inadmissible as evidence at trial, which may result in an acquittal or withdrawal of charges).

Potential penalty upon conviction:

(i) if Crown proceeds by indictment: maximum of 5 years jail

(ii) if Crown proceeds summarily: maximum of 18 months jail

Note: The penalty for Impaired Driving / Over 80 can be as high as 10 years jail if bodily harm is caused to the complainant, and as high as 25 years jail if death ensues.

Refusal to Blow [C.C. s 254]:

It is an offence to, without reasonable excuse, fail or refuse to comply with a demand for a breath sample.

This offence can occur both at the roadside as well as at the police station, depending on where the person refuses to provide a breach sample.

It is important to note that, in order to be convicted of Refusal to Blow, the breath sample demand made by the police must be lawful. If the police officer lacks the requisite grounds to make the demand, or if the demand is otherwise not authorized by law, you cannot be convicted for failing to comply. Toronto DUI & Impaired Driving lawyer Daniel Freudman has experience attacking the lawfulness of breath sample demands, and will fight to get you acquitted of your alcohol-related driving charges.

Potential penalty upon conviction:

(i) if Crown proceeds by indictment: maximum of 5 years jail

(ii) if Crown proceeds summarily: maximum of 18 months jail

Note: The penalty for Refusal to Blow can be as high as 10 years jail if bodily harm is caused to the complainant, and as high as 25 years jail if death ensues.

Dangerous Driving [C.C. s 249]

It is an offence to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the road, as well as the amount of traffic in the vicinity.

For a person’s driving to be deemed “dangerous”, there must be a “marked departure” from the standard of care ordinarily demonstrated by a reasonable person. Mere unsafe or reckless operation of a motor vehicle may amount to the offence of Careless Driving under the Highway Traffic Act, but would not constitute the criminal offence of Dangerous Driving.

A conviction for Dangerous Driving mandates a criminal record, and in Ontario, also entails an automatic license suspension of at least one year.

Potential penalty upon conviction:

(i) if Crown proceeds by indictment: maximum of 5 years jail

(ii) if Crown proceeds summarily: maximum of 6 months jail

Note: The penalty for Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle can be as high as 10 years jail if bodily harm is caused to the complainant, and as high as 14 years jail if death ensues.

Careless Driving [H.T.A. s 130]

It is an offence to drive a vehicle on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.

The term “highway” is defined by the Highway Traffic Act to include a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, (etc.), any party of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles. This means that one could not rightfully be convicted of Careless Driving if the driving occurred on private property, such as a private road, sidewalk, driveway or parking lot.

In Careless Driving cases, the defendant’s driving is measured against a “reasonable and ordinary standard of skill”, rather than a standard of “perfection”. As such, a momentary lapse in judgement will not suffice to justify a conviction for Careless Driving. Additionally, the fact that an accident and/or injury may have resulted from the driving is not, in itself, proof of a departure from the reasonable standard of care so as to justify a finding of Careless Driving.

Potential penalty upon conviction:

(a) Fine (minimum $400, maximum $2,000) and/or 6 months jail;

(b) License suspension (up to 2 years)

Penalties upon conviction of Impaired Driving / Over 80 / Refusal to Blow

1st offence 2nd offence Subsequent offence(s)
90-day roadside suspension, Mandatory participation in alcohol education & treatment program, $150 administrative penalty, 7-day vehicle impoundment
Ignition Interlock Condition 1 year (minimum)* 3 years (minimum) Lifetime
License suspension 1 year* 3 years Lifetime
Fine $1,000 Judge’s discretion Judge’s discretion
Minimum jail sentence No minimum 30 days 120 days

* In Ontario, the Ignition Interlock Conduct Review Program allows eligible drivers convicted of alcohol-impaired driving offences to reduce their license suspension if they meet certain requirements. For further details, visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website.

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