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Drinking & Driving


Drinking and Driving Offences

The law involving Drinking and Driving offences in Canada is highly technical, and constantly changing.

If you’ve been charged with impaired driving, refusing to provide a breath sample or driving under the influence (DUI), the help of aggressive and experienced legal counsel can be the difference between conviction and freedom.

Sprake Song & Konye is a professional, experienced, criminal defence firm with expertise in dealing with Drinking and Driving offences in Canada. We operate quickly, discreetly and are available 24/7/365.

Types of Drinking and Driving Offences

There are 3 main Drinking and Driving offences in Canada: driving while impaired, driving under the influence, and refusing to provide a breath sample. Let’s look more closely at these individual offences.

Impaired Driving

In order to be charged with this offence, The Crown must prove that your ability was impaired either by alcohol or drugs (either illegal or legal prescription drugs). This can be done with a breath test between 0.05 to 0.08 along with a combination of observations of your driving and of your behavior during the traffic stop.

Driving Under the Influence or DUI (Over 0.08)

An “over 80” offence requires proof that the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of 80 milligrams of alcohol or more per 100 milliliters of blood. Typically, this means the driver’s breath sample was 0.08 or higher.  However, a blood sample can also provide accurate results.

Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample

This offence is exactly what it sounds like – refusing to provide a breath sample, either through a screening device during a traffic stop or at a Checkstop or through a breathalyzer machine at the police station.

The consequences for this type of offence are the same as those for an “over 80.” Drivers who fail to provide a breath sample are treated within the legal system in Canada as if they were driving under the influence and will face similar consequences.

Types of Breath Tests

There are two types of breath tests: roadside screening which you take via a hand-held device at the side of the road and “evidentiary” tests which involve a more sophisticated breathalyzer device at a police station.

A roadside screening test is typically used by officers on patrol or manning a Checkstop. Often called an “Approved Screening Device,” this handheld breath test machine is less accurate than the machines in police stations, and the results cannot be used as evidence during a criminal trial.  However, the police use the results of this screener device to establish reasonable grounds to demand “evidentiary” samples of your breath to be analyzed by a breathalyzer machine (an “Approved Instrument”).

In order to administer a roadside test, an officer must simply suspect that you have some alcohol in your system. Drivers in this situation don’t have the right to contact a lawyer before blowing into the machine. Roadside Screening Devices give only three results: “Pass,” “Warn,” or “Fail.”

If the device returns a “Warn” the officer may seize your license, but you likely won’t be charged with a criminal offence. If the device returns a “Fail,” you will likely be arrested.

It’s important to know that you may request a breath test if the police give you an IRP (Immediate Roadside Prohibition) without testing your blood alcohol level. You also have the right to request 2 readings (the lower of which is used), and the police must inform you of this right.

An Approved Instrument is a more sophisticated and reliable breath test machine used at police stations and in many Checkstop vans. This is the only breath test that can be used against you in court. However, in order to require you to blow into this machine, a police officer must have reason to believe that your driving ability is seriously impaired by alcohol. Before taking one of these tests, you have a right to speak with a lawyer.  Insist on speaking to counsel at Sprake Song & Konye so that you are provided with proper advice.

What Are the Penalties for a Drinking and Driving Offence

Drinking and Driving is a violation of The Criminal Code and, therefore, results in serious penalties and consequences. A conviction means you will have a criminal record, loss of your driver’s license, potentially serve jail time and pay heavy fines. The consequences are so severe that most often the only reasonable option is to fight the charges.

The Criminal Code provides a minimum $1000 fine for a first offence. You will also face a driving prohibition, preventing you from driving anywhere in Canada, for 1 – 3 years. In addition, you will incur heavier insurance premiums and additional fees and fines associated with vehicle seizure and license reinstatement.

Subsequent offences may result in heavier fines and automatically result in jail time (30 days and 120 days for second and third offences respectively) and longer driving prohibitions (2+ years and 3+ years for second and third offences respectively).

Both Alberta and British Columbia (and all other Canadian provinces) operate an Ignition Interlock Program, so you may be eligible to receive a reduction in your driving prohibition time via the use of a monitoring device being installed (at your cost) in any vehicle that you operate.

Sprake Song & Konye Will Fight For You

We understand the negative impact that a Drinking and Driving charge can have on your day-to-day life, and on your future success. That’s why we work tirelessly to get our clients back to their normal life as soon as possible.

We understand the complex laws surrounding Drinking and Driving, and we’re experienced in defending clients who have been charged with these types of offences. There are a number of defences available to you, and every situation is unique. If you’ve been charged with impaired driving, driving under the influence, or failure to provide a breath sample, you need to know your rights and your options.

You need someone who is on your side and will do everything possible to help you get your life back on track.
Contact us today.