Anyone convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Canada faces harsh legal consequences. Our country considers impaired driving a serious offense, and judges do not have much sympathy for those who commit it. Even a first-time conviction can cost you hundreds of dollars, your driver’s license, and your freedom.
If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated, one thing is clear: you need protection. That’s where Jonathan Lapid, Toronto DUI lawyer come in.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, you need to be honest with yourself about one thing: the courts do not look kindly on drunk drivers. The penalties for DUI are intended to be harsh – even for a first offense. Without the right legal assistance, an accusation of drunk driving can severely damage your finances, reputation, career, and nearly all other areas of your life. But the situation is far from hopeless. The good news is that your chances of having your charges dismissed or receiving a lighter sentence are much better when you have a tough, experienced lawyer working for you.
DUI Breath Test
In Canada, you can be convicted for drunk driving if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or above. It does not matter if you are actually impaired or even if you perform a sobriety test perfectly. Having a BAC above the legal limit is considered intoxication per se.
Your Rights as a Driver
If you are pulled over and the police suspect you are intoxicated, they will likely want to administer a BAC test using a handheld device that you breathe into. This kind of test is known as a roadside breath test or preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). You have the right to refuse to take this test. Unfortunately, this refusal may not prevent you from being arrested if the police suspect you are intoxicated.
Once at the station, the police may want you to take a breathalyzer, or they may even want to administer a blood or urine test. At this point, you will need to comply. Our state follows the legal doctrine of “implied consent”: by getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs, you are consenting to chemical testing. The police may use “reasonable force” to administer the test.
Fighting the Breath Test in Court
Even if you fail the breathalyzer test, the situation is not hopeless. An experienced attorney can help you fight these test results in court. Roadside breath tests, for example, are not admissible in court. Even breath tests given at a police station can be contested. If the breathalyzer machine was improperly calibrated, or if the officer operating the machine was not properly trained, the results may be invalidated.
The legal limit on a driver’s blood alcohol content may be .08, but that doesn’t mean police can only arrest you if your BAC is that high. Another tool that officers use to determine which drivers are intoxicated is called a field sobriety test. These tests consist of physical and/or mental tasks that an officer may ask you to perform after being pulled over, supposedly to see if you are impaired.
Standard Field Sobriety Tests
If you are asked to complete a field sobriety test, you may be tempted to agree. Police officers can be highly intimidating when they believe they are dealing with a drunk driver; you may also think that passing the test can help your case.
However, it is important to know that any field sobriety tests have been shown to have low accuracy levels. Even a fully sober person can fail one if he or she is a senior citizen, has a medical condition, is affected by strong winds or rain, or even if he or she is just nervous.
Common field sobriety tests include:
- One-leg stand
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus
- Walk and turn
Even if your license is suspended or revoked, you could be eligible for a restricted license that will allow you to travel to work or school. To obtain one, you will need to file a request with the court after half of your suspension has been served. Your chances of being granted a restricted license are much greater if it is your first DUI conviction; people with subsequent convictions may not be eligible.
Getting Your License Back
Your driver’s license may be suspended by both the court handling your criminal case and the Department of Motor Vehicles. This can increase the length of time you must wait before you can get your license back. Once this time is up, you will need to take the following steps before you can legally drive again:
- Pay a $65 fee to have your license reinstated
- Pay a $21.75 for your driver’s license application
- Pay $35 to the Victims Compensation Fund
- Retake the written driver’s license exam, and possibly the skills test
- Get an SR-22 certificate from your auto insurance provider to file with the DMV
It is a lot to do, but an experienced Toronto DUI defense attorney can help complete the process as smoothly as possible while ensuring your rights are respected.
If you are concerned about breath test results and their effect on your case, we can help. Protect yourself from unfair accusations and severe penalties by contacting Jonathan Lapid, best DUI lawyer in Toronto.