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Most people who drive frequently, particularly on weekend nights, will have run into a check stop. For some, what would otherwise be simply an inconvenience becomes a potentially life-changing interaction with law enforcement. Whenever you are stopped at a check stop, you are at the front lines of criminal law and its enforcement, and a stunning array of rights, risks, and procedures come into play.

The criminal courthouse in Newmarket can be found at 50 Eagle Street West, Newmarket Ontario L3Y 6B1. To reach someone about a Criminal Youth charge through the Ontario Court of Justice, call 905-853-4801. To reach someone about a Criminal charge through the Superior Court of Justice, call 905-853-4801.

Finally, to reach someone about a Criminal charge through the Ontario Court of Justice, call 905-853-4801. The Crown Attorney for Newmarket can be reached by telephone 905-853-4800 or by fax at 905-853-4849.

Ontario Victim Services for Newmarket can be called at 905-853-4818 or reached by fax at 905-853-4883. As well, the Newmarket courthouse holds office hours generally from Monday to Friday from 8:30 am through 5:00 pm.

Require information about your upcoming court appearance? Access daily court lists here.

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Impaired Driving Offences in Canada

There are three primary drinking and driving related offences in Canada.

The first, and the broadest, is Driving While Impaired. Where a driver is operating or in care and control of a vehicle, is impaired to any degree in that operation, and this impairment is due to alcohol or drugs, they are driving while impaired for the purposes of Canadian law. There is no minimum threshold for the amount of alcohol or drugs in one’s system for this to apply.

In this case, the charges are proven based on the observed behaviour of the accused, particularly when stopped by the police.

In the case of driving while intoxicated, you do not necessarily need to be driving the vehicle, or even behind the wheel. It simply must be within the driver’s “care and control”, whether or not it is in motion. As such, you should think carefully before, for example, sleeping in your car if you are too drunk to drive, as this too can result in criminal charges.

The second, “driving over 80”, is where a driver operates a vehicle with more than 80 mgs of alcohol per 100ml of blood in their body.

These charges are proven using machines that measure the amount of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream. This is a three-step process. First, the police must reasonably suspect that the driver is impaired by alcohol. Then, the police apply what is called an approved screening device, a portable measure of the alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream. This provides them with license to bring the suspected driver into the police station for them to apply a more precise instrument, an Approved Device. This device, operated by a technician, provides a more exact last word on the amount of alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream.

In the case of driving over 80, the intoxicant in question must be alcohol. While drugs can result in a driving while impaired charge, they cannot result in a driving over 80 charge. Provincial and federal governments are attempting to develop and test devices that can test for marijuana and other drugs during roadside stops; however, these have yet to be approved.

The last is not about the actual drinking and driving, but rather, how you respond after being stopped. When you are stopped and the police suspect you may have alcohol in your system, it is illegal to refuse to comply with a request for a blood sample. This is so even if you have zero drugs or alcohol in your system.

Note that where drinking and driving results in harm to other people or their property, drivers are subject to an even broader range of potential penalties.

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

Yes, it is possible to face impaired driving charge if you are under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol. The Criminal Code explains in section 254 that there is a three-step procedure that must be followed to determine whether an accused is impaired by a drug. The first step involves the officer performing a standard ‘field sobriety test’. If this first step is failed, the second step involves a ‘drug recognition expert examination’. This step will be fulfilled at the police station. Finally, if the second step gives the officer with reasonable grounds to suspect that the individual is impaired by drugs or alcohol, the third step involves administering a ‘bodily fluid sampling test’, which involves collecting saliva, blood or urine from the accused to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs.

To find more information on the three-step procedure, click here.

Penalties

When any of the above charges are pursued by summary conviction, the less strenuous option open to the Crown, the maximum penalty is 18 months’ imprisonment. When the Crown proceeds by indictment, drivers can be imprisoned for up to five years.

The minimum penalty under the circumstances depends on the number of previous offences. When convicted of any of the three offences above for the first time, the minimum penalty is a $1,000 fine. For a second offence, it is 30 days in jail. For a third or more offence, the minimum penalty is 120 days imprisonment.

When sentencing people for impaired driving offences, the court’s primary goal is to deter other drivers and to express their condemnation of drunk driving. In particular, courts consider the risk posed to other people by the accused while behind the wheel.

Blood Alcohol Contents Between 50 and 80

Drivers who have had a little bit to drink, but have not crossed the 800-mg threshold for conviction for driving over 80, can still be subject to penalties. In contrast to driving over 80, having a blood alcohol content of between 50mg/100ml and 80mg/100ml is not a crime. We refer to this as a “warm reading”. It is, however, illegal in Ontario, but subject to provincial offences instead of federal criminal law. You should note that other provinces may have different thresholds for such laws to apply or different punishments.

Penalties for warm readings depend on how frequently this has happened in the past, and they escalate as follows:

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

We can help you exercise all of your rights, help you negotiate with the Crown, and hopefully, help you resolve your issue without a criminal record. If this sounds of interest to you, consider reaching out to our firm for a free consultation and the possibility of working alongside us to protect your rights. Contact at 416-DEFENCE, or [email protected], to arrange a discussion with a member of our team of Newmarket criminal lawyers to see what we can do for you.

416-DEFENCE | 416-333-3623