What Are the Penalties for DUI (Impaired Driving) Charges?
Being found guilty of a DUI (impaired driving) criminal offence is a serious crime in Canada. The Crown can proceed against you in one of two manners: by way of indictment or summary conviction. An indictable offence is the more serious and is similar to being charged with a felony conviction in the United States. A summary conviction is the lesser of the two and is the equivalent of a misdemeanor in the United States.
The majority of impaired driving offences are prosecuted as summary convictions. However, the penalties are still severe. All impaired driving charges include a minimum driver license suspension period, the length of which depends on the province where the offence was committed and whether it is your first, second, third, or subsequence offence. In all provinces, for first time offenders the minimum suspension is one year, unless you are eligible for early reinstatement by fitting specific criteria.
Second offences carry a minimum driving prohibition of three years. Third offences range from five years in some provinces to as much an indefinite license suspension, such as in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and the Yukon.
All first time offences carry a minimum fine of $1,000. Fines for subsequent offences are always at least $1,000 and are often much more. In addition, the Criminal Code dictates that second offences carry a minimum 30 day jail sentence. Subsequent impaired driving convictions carry a minimum of 120 day jail sentence. All summary convictions, even first time offences, have a maximum jail sentence of up to 18 months.
Keep in mind it is entirely up to the judge to impose penalties, fines, and jail time, but that they cannot go below the statutory minimums. In some cases, the judge may be lenient and only impose the minimum sentencing and in other cases, decide to be harsher and impose the maximum sentencing guidelines. Additionally, all convictions are recorded onto your permanent criminal record.
Besides the costs imposed by the court for a guilty conviction, there are other expenses and impacts to your life. Your auto insurance company will increase your rates if you are found guilty. Some people even lose their jobs. Rehabilitation and educational programs can also be required by the court and all costs for these are your responsibility. It has been calculated that the total in court and out of court costs of being found guilty of a drinking and driving offence can reach $30,000.
This is why if you are stopped and charged with impaired driving, you need to take the charge seriously and obtain assistance from a Toronto criminal defence lawyer. Having sound legal advice and representation is highly recommended in order to achieve the best possible outcome for DUI offences and reduce the likelihood of being convicted. Call RGZLegal now at 416-873-6970 to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your charges.