Is Bail Available for Someone Charged with this Offence?
In Canada, all persons have the right not to be denied bail without cause. This means that bail on the least strict conditions possible is presumptively available to all accused persons, unless a judge determines that they should be denied bail and held pending trial. During a bail hearing, a judge will examine the facts and circumstances of each case, which includes the circumstances of the offender such as their previous criminal record. These facts allow a judge to determine the most appropriate conditions to issue for each accused person. Common bail conditions for impaired driving cases will usually include at the minimum, a requirement that the accused attend all their court dates and not reoffend, as well as a prohibition on driving.
The availability of bail depends on each case and is governed according to the Antic principles. Within these principles are three grounds that determine an accused’s eligibility for bail. The first is that the judge must be satisfied that an accused will freely attend all the necessary appearances related to their case. The second concerns whether there is a belief that the accused will not reoffend. Both grounds can be determined by looking at the circumstances of the accused, including their criminal history. The final ground deals with the public interest in the release of the accused. In some impaired driving cases, where the accused is responsible for several deaths, a judge may deny the accused bail on the basis that their release would undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system. Therefore, the facts of the case are particularly important to this ground.
What are the Penalties for Impaired Driving Causing Death?
There are several criminal penalties attached to an impaired driving causing death offence. The serious nature of the offence has led it to be classified as an indictable offence, which is the classification reserved for the most serious crimes under Canadian law. The penalties for this offence are set out under s. 320.21 of the Code. The maximum sentence an offender can receive for this offence is life imprisonment. Impaired driving causing death also carries a minimum punishment of a $1,000 fine for a first offence, 30 days imprisonment for a second offence and 120 days for any additional offences. In addition to the main punishment, a court will also issue any number of ancillary orders that may include such measures as a DNA order or a driving prohibition.
The exact sentence an offender receives will depend on the facts of their case. Receiving the maximum sentence available under the Code is rare. Instead, a court will look to the aggravating and mitigating factors at play that argue for a stronger or more lenient sentence respectively. Examples of aggravating factors in these cases include the level of impairment of the offender if it exceeds 120 mg of alcohol, whether a person under 16 was a passenger of the offender during the offence, or if the offender was being paid to drive the vehicle. Mitigating factors may include an offender’s lack of previous criminal records or if they elect to plead guilty to the offence.