Drinking and driving in Guelph, or anywhere in Canada, can result in any of several charges. The three most prominent criminal charges are refusing to provide a sample, driving “over 80”, and driving while impaired. These are some of the most frequently litigated charges in Canadian criminal law, and can affect anyone who drives.

Any of these charges may strike accused Canadians as particularly difficult to beat. Typically, when one is accused of having been driving under the influence, the police claim that they have caught you in the act, and the evidence the crown presents is generally supported by quantified, scientific evidence making it seem like their case is bulletproof.

However, this is not necessarily the case. The police are not infallible, and searches do not always accord with the rights of the accused. Devices malfunction. Just because charges have been brought and a case lain out does not mean that there is nothing you can do.

If you want to explore your options, you can maximize your chances by reaching out to a criminal lawyer practicing in Guelph. Defences to drinking and driving offences often require an intimate knowledge of the testing methods used by the police, the accused’s rights against search and seizure, criminal procedure, and cross-examining police officers. Being able to effectively respond to drinking and driving charges requires much more information than these basics about what constitutes an offence.

The Guelph criminal courthouse can be located at 36 Wyndham Street South, Guelph, ON N1H 7J5. The main intersection is Wyndham Street South and Fountain Street. The Guelph criminal courthouse has jurisdiction over all criminal matters occurring in the province of Ontario, and specifically hears cases concerning serious criminal offences that have occurred in Guelph. To speak to someone at the courthouse, call 519-826-4431. The Guelph courthouse is also open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5 pm.  Services are offered in English, French and Quebec Sign Language. There are also staff available for Interpretive Services.

Information about an upcoming court appearance can be found here. Services and contact information can be found here.

The overall number of impaired driving incidents dropped in 2016. There was a total of 148 incidents reported to police in Guelph. The average number of impaired driving incidents in Guelph is lower than the national average. The rate in Guelph in 2016 was 111.82 per 100,000, which can be compared to the national rate of 194.31 per 100,000.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are Drinking & Driving Charges
Can I Drunk “Drive” a Stopped Car?
What are the Provincial Offences?

Drinking & Driving Charges

There are many criminal charges that can result from driving while impaired. Particularly, if drunken driving does result in harm to other people or their property, a wide variety of charges can be lain. However, there are three primary charges for driving after drinking that do not require any further consequences: “Driving over 80”, driving while impaired, and refusing to provide a sample.

Operating a motor vehicle with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood is a criminal offence, outlined in section 253(1)b. Police officers no longer require reasonable suspicion to demand a breath sample from the operator of a motor vehicle. Once an officer has made a demand for a breath sample, the driver must comply. If they fail to comply, they will be charged with the offence of failure or refusal to comply with demand. If the individual does comply with the officer’s demand and blows over .80, they will generally be taken to the police station and required to undergo more precise testing on an approved instrument.

The second is Impaired driving. Where the crown proves that the driver was operating a motor vehicle or was in care and control of a motor vehicle, that there was any amount of impairment of the accused’s ability to drive at the time, and the impairment was by alcohol or drugs, the driver has committed an offence under section 253(1)a.

When you are stopped by the police, it is a criminal offence to refuse to comply with a request for a breath sample. This is termed Refusing to Provide a Sample, and is outlined in section 254(5) of the Criminal Code, and serves to prevent people attempting to avoid the above charges simply by stonewalling police officers.

Drunk “Driving” a Stopped Car

Whether or not the vehicle you are operating is in motion, you may be liable for drunk “driving” offences. Section 253 outlines that impaired driving charges can occur in two ways: (1) by operating the vehicle; or (2) by having the vehicle in his or her care and control, whether it is in motion or not.

Consuming alcohol in a parked vehicle, or passing out after a few drinks in the back of your truck, is still legally risky. This provision results in some charges that strike many laypeople as shockingly unfair, particularly where the accused acted in an attempt not to get behind the wheel.

Provincial Offences

Even if you do not quite meet the threshold for “over 80” but have some alcohol in your system, you are not necessarily in the clear. If you have a blood alcohol content of more than .05, but less than .08, this gives puts you at risk for provincial offences for what is sometimes referred to as a “warm reading”.

Driving with a blood alcohol content of over .05 but less than .08 is not a criminal offence. However, it results in a series of escalating penalties, which, though not on the same scale as criminal convictions, are still serious:

  • First warm readings result in:
    • 3 day licensee suspension;
    • $150 administrative monetary penalty;
  • Second warm readings result in (within 5 years):
    • 7 day license suspension;
    • Mandatory alcohol education program;
    • $150 administrative monetary penalty.
  • Third warm readings result in (within 5 years):
    • 30 day license suspension;
    • Mandatory alcohol treatment program;
    • Six-month ignition interlock license condition;
    • $150 administrative monetary penalty.
  • Subsequent infractions (within 5 years):
    • 30-day license suspension;
    • Mandatory alcohol treatment program;
    • Six-month ignition interlock license condition;
    • Mandatory medical evaluation;
    • $150 administrative monetary penalty.

Unlike criminal charges, these suspensions cannot be appealed, and are indelible marks on a driver’s record that determine the consequences for subsequent infractions over the next five years.

If you have been charged with any of the offences discussed above, consider discussing your situation with an experienced Guelph criminal lawyer. While we operate primarily out of Toronto, we represent clients throughout the province, and offer free consultations. You can contact us at 416-DEFENCE, or at [email protected], and we would be happy to discuss your situation with you.

Can you face an Impaired Driving charge if you are under the influence of drugs? 

 Yes, you can face an impaired driving charge if you are under the influence of drugs and not alcohol. The Criminal Code in section 254 explains that there is a three-step procedure that must be followed to determine whether an accused is impaired by a drug. First, the officer must perform a standard ‘field sobriety test’. If this step is failed, the second step involved a ‘drug recognition expert examination’. This will be conducted at the police station. Finally, if the second step provides the officer with reasonable grounds to suspect that the individual is impaired, the third step involves administering a ‘bodily fluid sampling test’. During this test, saliva, urine or blood will be collected from the individual and tested for alcohol and/or drugs.

For more detailed information on the three-step procedure, click here.

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