Toronto DUI Charges Decoded: An Informed Defence With Fedorowicz Law

October 27, 2023

In Canada, and especially in Toronto, a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge is more than just a legal entanglement—it has the potential to reshape the trajectory of one’s life. It can affect one’s personal freedom, professional opportunities, and social relationships.

Given these consequences, understanding the complexities surrounding such charges becomes not just important but paramount. This blog delves deep into the realm of DUI charges in Toronto, illuminating the potential outcomes and the proactive steps one can take.

Most importantly, we’ll underscore the invaluable role a competent DUI lawyer in Toronto plays in navigating these charges. Whether you’re seeking preventative advice or currently facing charges, this blog will equip you with the knowledge and perspective needed to make informed decisions.

Deciphering DUI Charges In Toronto:

In Toronto, as is the case across Canada, the term ‘DUI’ or ‘Driving Under the Influence’ is often employed colloquially, but the Canadian Criminal Code outlines specific charges related to driving while impaired.

These distinctions are crucial to understand if faced with such allegations.

Impaired Driving

This charge focuses on the driver’s actual ability to operate a vehicle. It doesn’t necessarily hinge on a specific blood alcohol or drug concentration. Instead, it’s about discernible impairment.

For instance, if a driver exhibits signs such as slurred speech, erratic driving patterns, or inability to follow simple instructions, they might be charged with impaired driving. This holds true even if their blood alcohol level is below the legal limit or if they’re under the influence of a drug that doesn’t have a specified legal limit.

“Over 80” Charges

Contrary to “impaired driving,” the “over 80” charge is more precise. It refers to driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or above 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. It’s worth noting that one can be charged with “over 80” even if they show no outward signs of impairment.

Essentially, the mere act of driving with a BAC over the legal limit is an offence.

Measuring Impairment Levels

Alcohol impairment is most commonly gauged using an “approved instrument” (commonly referred to as a breathalyzer) device that estimates BAC from a breath sample. A reading over 0.08 (or 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood) is grounds for an “over 80” charge.

For drug impairment, the approach can be more complex. Certain drugs have specified blood concentration limits. For instance, THC (the primary psychoactive component in cannabis) has a legal limit of 2 nanograms (ng) per millilitre of blood. Levels between 2 ng and 5 ng can lead to a less severe charge, but 5 ng or more can result in more severe drug-impaired driving charges.

Testing for drugs typically involves a blood test, but the process often begins with a field sobriety test or a drug recognition expert evaluation.

In both scenarios, understanding your rights during testing procedures and immediately seeking advice from a reputable DUI lawyer in Toronto can significantly impact the course and outcome of your case.

Implications Of Refusing A Breathalyzer Test

Upon being pulled over or detained by the police, everyone has a constitutional right to remain silent under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This means that one doesn’t have to answer questions about where they’ve been, what they’ve consumed, or any other inquiries. This right is crucial as it’s intended to prevent self-incrimination.

However, the breathalyzer presents a unique situation. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, drivers have a legal obligation to provide a breath sample when there’s a reasonable suspicion they have alcohol in their system.

Refusing to do so can result in a charge that’s similar in gravity to actual impaired driving. It’s essential to recognize that this obligation isn’t counter to one’s right to remain silent. While you can choose not to answer questions, if asked to provide a breath sample, refusal can lead to its own set of charges.

Also read: Defending Your Rights In Toronto

Potential Ramifications Of Refusal

The decision to decline a breathalyzer test doesn’t come without consequences. If found guilty of refusing the test, penalties can be as severe as those for DUI convictions.

They can include:

  • A mandatory minimum fine
  • A potential driving prohibition, preventing the individual from operating a vehicle for a specified period.
  • A criminal record, with all its associated long-term implications for employment and travel.

Furthermore, refusing a test doesn’t necessarily protect someone from a DUI charge. If law enforcement has other evidence of impairment, such as erratic driving behaviour or visible signs of intoxication, you could still face DUI charges even without a breathalyzer result.

Penalties Associated With DUI Convictions

The penalties vary depending on the nature of the offence and prior records, but all underscore the seriousness with which the Canadian legal system views impaired driving.

For First-Time Offenders

  • Fines: A first-time DUI offence usually results in a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
  • Driving Suspension: An automatic prohibition from driving is imposed. The length of this suspension can vary, but it typically starts at one year.
  • Educational Programs: In some instances, especially where alcohol was the impairing substance, first-time offenders might be required to complete an educational program, such as the “Back On Track” program in Ontario.

For Repeat Offenders

  • Increased Penalties: The penalties for repeat offenders escalate. A second offence might result in a mandatory minimum of 30 days imprisonment, while a third offence usually involves a mandatory minimum of 120 days in jail.
  • Extended Driving Suspension: With each subsequent offence, the length of the driving prohibition increases.
  • Mandatory Programs: Repeat offenders may also have mandatory participation in educational or treatment programs.

For Severe Violations

Severe DUI violations, such as causing bodily harm or death while driving impaired, carry steeper consequences:

  • Jail Time: If impaired driving results in bodily harm, offenders can face imprisonment for a term of up to 14 years. If it results in death, the potential imprisonment extends to a life term.
  • Permanent Criminal Record: Convictions, especially in cases involving harm or fatality, leave a permanent mark on one’s criminal record, further affecting future opportunities and interactions with the legal system.
  • Extensive Driving Prohibitions: In such cases, driving prohibitions are typically longer, and reinstatement processes become more stringent.

The full spectrum of these consequences underscores the importance of both responsible driving and, if charged, seeking expert legal assistance from a proficient DUI lawyer in Toronto to navigate the complexities of the legal process.

The Role Of A DUI Lawyer In Toronto In Navigating DUI Charges

While the Canadian legal system is just, it is also immensely complex. Having an expert who knows the intricacies, particularly of DUI laws in Toronto, can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

Here’s a deep dive into the multifaceted role a DUI lawyer plays:

Evidence Evaluation

Before any court proceeding, it’s pivotal to understand the evidence that stands against you. A DUI lawyer meticulously reviews every piece of evidence, from police reports to breathalyzer results. Their trained eyes can often catch inconsistencies or errors that can be pivotal in building a defence.

For instance, if the breathalyzer used during your arrest wasn’t calibrated correctly, the results may be contested.

Legal Strategy Formulation

A DUI charge doesn’t always mean an inevitable conviction. With a proficient DUI lawyer, a tailored strategy is formulated based on the specifics of your case. This could involve challenging the legality of the traffic stop, the arrest, or the integrity of the evidence against you.

Every detail matters, and every aspect of the case can be a potential focal point of the defence.

Plea Negotiations

Sometimes, the best way forward isn’t a lengthy trial but a negotiated agreement. DUI lawyers possess the requisite knowledge and negotiation skills to discuss your case with the prosecution. Through these plea negotiations, they can often secure reduced charges, lesser penalties, or alternative sentencing options, ensuring the least disruption to your life.

Rights Protection

Being charged doesn’t mean surrendering your rights. Whether it’s the right to remain silent or the right to a fair trial, a DUI lawyer ensures that you’re not only aware of these rights but that they’re upheld at every stage of the legal process.

Court Representation

Should your case go to trial, the presence of an adept DUI lawyer becomes invaluable. From presenting evidence to cross-examining witnesses, they work tirelessly to represent your interests, striving for the most favourable outcome.

Why Should You Choose Fedorowicz Law For Your DUI Defence?

At Fedorowicz Law, our expertise in DUI defence is anchored by years of experience, a track record of favourable outcomes, and a commitment to each client’s unique situation. Every case we handle is approached with precision, dedication, and a deep understanding of Toronto’s legal landscape.

Contact us today to explore how we can be of service.