Impaired Driving Defence Lawyers Calgary

Impaired Driving Defence Lawyer in Calgary & Edmonton

Impaired Driving is also known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The term Impaired Driving is Canadian, while the other two versions are American terminology. Impaired Driving is also typically used to refer to a number of driving alcohol related offences such as Driving Over the Legal Limit (also known as Over 80 or Over .08), Refusal to Provide a Breath Sample, Failure to Provide a Breath Sample, or Care and Control While Impaired.

If you have been charged with an impaired driving offence, you are not alone. Statistics Canada has reported that in 2016 there were 70,509 incidents of impaired driving throughout the country, and that 12, 191 of those incidents occurred here in Alberta. According to statistics recently presented in Sahaluk v. Alberta( Transportation Safety Board), [2017] A.J. No. 499,  81% of those charged with an alcohol related driving offence in Alberta will be found guilty of the offence.

It is important to remember that the law presently does not allow you to begin your one-year administrative suspension until you have been formally convicted of a driving offence. As such, if you are found guilty of an alcohol related driving offence, the time that you spent waiting to go to trial will not count towards your administrative suspension; your suspension will only begin after you have pled guilty or been found guilty at trial. If you want to fight your charges at trial, you will be facing an 8 to 10 month wait between the date you were charged and the date that your trial begins.  Although our lawyers can significantly reduce that delay, the earliest you will likely be able to get to trial is 3 months from the date of charge.

Given the extremely high conviction rate following impaired driving charges, and considering the significant amount of time this charge can keep you off the road, it is in your utmost interest to quickly retain a criminal defence lawyer who has skill and experience with impaired driving defence. At Oykhman Criminal Defence, we have a very strong focus on defending alcohol related offences and we have the knowledge and skills that are required to resolve your matter in the best and most efficient way possible. Contact us today to set up a meeting with one of our criminal defence lawyers as soon as possible. We will review your case with you and help you identify the quickest and most effective way to address your charge for Impaired driving, Over 80, or Refusal. 

Impaired Driving Charge

This charge is separate, but related to the charge of “driving over .08”. It is often charged alongside a charge of over .08. The prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, several elements of this charge:

  • That you operated, or had the care or control of, a motor vehicle
  • That your ability to operate that motor vehicle was impaired
  • That alcohol was the cause of your impairment

The Crown need only prove that your ability to drive was slightly impaired.

In deciding whether or not the Crown has proven its case on this charge, Judges can consider a wide variety of evidence. Judges will frequently consider the following types of evidence:

  • Your physical appearance (red/bloodshot/glassy eyes, drooling)
  • The smell of alcohol on your breath
  • Your driving pattern /performance (were you swerving? Speeding? Signalling? Obeying all traffic signs and lights?)
  • Your pattern of speech (i.e. was it slurred, slow, incoherent?)
  • Your balance (swaying, stumbling, wobbling, etc)
  • Your hand/eye co-ordination (did you have difficulty retrieving your license, insurance, registration or documents when you were pulled over? The police will often request these documents for the purpose of assessing your sobriety)
  • Any admissions you made to the police (either in transport, in between giving breath samples at the police station, or before you were released after samples)

Since you own words can be used against you, it is critical that you say no more than necessary at all times when in police custody. We have unfortunately seen cases where the accused would have beat the charge had he not made statements to the police such as:

  • “I know I made a mistake; I shouldn’t have been driving”
  • “What’s the point of giving breath samples? I know I will blow over”.

Conversely, the police may appear friendly and chatty during the drive to the station or in between you giving breath samples. This is a ruse on their part to encourage you to talk about your alcohol consumption and admit that you were too drunk to drive.

Bail Conditions for Impaired Driving Charge

The most significant condition that you will experience as a result of being charged is your license suspension. This suspension lasts until your court case is finished; this can take from 3 months to one year! Our knowledgeable impaired driving defence lawyers can pursue an appeal of your suspension if you come to us prior to the expiration of the 30-day appeal period from the day of the offence.

If you have recent related convictions, the Crown will have a compelling argument to convince a judge that you should be kept in custody until your charges are dealt with. Our lawyers can neutralize that argument by providing the judge a release plan that will show you are not a danger to re-offend if released.

Defending Impaired Driving Charges

We can help neutralize the power imbalance that exists when you are alone in police custody and a demand is made for you to give breath samples.

We will review your case inside and out for any defences or breaches of your constitutional rights that may result in the charges getting dismissed. We will explore the following key issues:

  • Are there alternative explanations for any poor driving pattern?
  • Are the Crown’s eyewitnesses reliable enough to prove you guilty?
  • Is there sufficient evidence that you drank alcohol in a large enough amount to impair your ability to drive?
  • Did the police violate any of your constitutional rights in the process of gathering evidence against you?

The Sentence

The punishments for impaired driving are high. You can get up to 5 years in jail.

In addition, there are mandatory minimum punishments for impaired driving:

  • First offence: minimum $1000 fine; driving suspension of at least 1 year
  • Second offence: minimum 30 days in jail; driving suspension of at least 2 years
  • Third offence: minimum 120 days in jail; driving suspension of at least 3 years

There is an exception to the mandatory fines and jail time laid out above, called a “curative discharge”. If you are able to convince the court that you have an addiction to alcohol that requires medical treatment, the Court may decide to place you on probation and require you to take treatment instead of sending you to jail.

Because it is an exceptional sentence reserved for only the most deserving offenders, a curative discharge application requires the competent and persuasive presentation of medical evidence, and a compelling legal argument. The groundwork must be laid immediately after the charge if the court is to be satisfied that you are genuinely motivated to cure your addiction.

Our defence lawyers will explore the curative discharge option with you at your free initial consultation, and, if you wish to pursue it, will start work immediately on creating and collecting the complex and detailed medical evidence required to make the best argument.

Recent Important Changes to Impaired Driving in Alberta

As of July 1, 2012, the Alberta Government implemented legislation that results in the immediate license suspension of anyone charged with most alcohol related driving offences, such as Impaired Driving, Over 80, Refusal, Care or Control, etc. Typically, the suspension continues indefinitely until the charges are resolved. Recently, in May of 2017 criminal defence lawyers in Alberta (including our office) challenged and successfully overturned this legislation.  Unfortunately, the Alberta Court of Appeal left the legislation in place for 1 year from the date of invalidity.

There is nevertheless a mechanism for challenging such a suspension, and you should contact me directly to determine whether your case meets the criteria for an effective challenge. Please be aware driving during this suspension period may result in further charges.

Impaired Driving FAQs

  1. How do I find the best lawyer for my DUI charge?
  2. Can I be charged with a DUI even if I wasn’t driving or the vehicle wasn’t moving (Care or Control?)
  3. What is the penalty if I plead guilty or I am found guilty of a DUI?
  4. How will my DUI charge affect my license in Alberta?
  5. How can I avoid a criminal record if I am guilty of a DUI?
  6. Can I go to the US if I am found guilty of a DUI?
  7. Can I get charged with a DUI if I am driving while I am high on drugs?
  8. A criminal defence lawyer’s top 5 tips for fighting an impaired driving charge

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Charges from outside of Calgary near Okotoks Michael had helped me through this time with getting both charges dropped. Michael has been very thoughtful and professional throughout the tough times. Top Lawyer in the Calgary area. Recommended to anyone facing traffic charges.

starM.C.

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After being charged with impaired driving, I retained Michael and am extremely pleased with the services he provided. He is very knowledgeable, professional and understanding. Michael kept me up to date about everything that was happening with my case. Within 3 weeks all my charges were dropped.

starK.S.

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Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

Successful Case Results

Impaired Driving and Over .08, Charges Withdrawn

Calgary Provincial Court
Case Number: 7519721

Our client drove through a checkstop, indicated he had some drinks that evening, and was noted to have glassy mirrored eyes and a smell of alcohol on his breath. He failed the roadside breath test, blew .140 on the evidentiary instrument, and was charged with impaired driving and driving over .08.

Once we were retained, we set the matter for trial and filed a motion alleging a violation of our client’s Constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Days before trial, we successfully negotiated the withdrawal of all charges.

Successful Result: No Criminal Record, Charges Withdrawn

Impaired Driving and Over .08, Charges Withdrawn

Calgary Provincial Court
Case Number: 5519791

Our client was observed accelerating at a high rate of speed through a parking lot. Upon stopping, the police observed that his speech was slurred, and he admitted drinking that day. He failed the roadside breath test, and was charged with impaired driving, driving over .08, and some traffic tickets.

Once we were retained, we set a trial date and filed a motion alleging a violation of our client’s Constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We successfully negotiated a stay of proceedings on all criminal charges in exchange for a guilty plea to one of the traffic tickets.

Successful Result: No criminal Record, Charges Stayed

Impaired Driving and Over .08, Charges Withdrawn

Canmore Provincial Court
Case Number: 7620141

Our client was stopped by the RCMP after being observed driving erratically. He had an odour of alcohol on his breath, blood shot eyes, and admitted drinking beer earlier in the day. He failed the roadside breath test, provided further breath samples at the RCMP station, and was charged with impaired driving and driving over .08.

Once we were retained, we carefully reviewed the allegations and found what we believed to be a fatal flaw in the RCMP investigation. We contacted the Crown Prosecutor’s office, and successfully negotiated a withdrawal of all charges.

Successful Result:
No Criminal Record, Charges Withdrawn
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Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.