Criminal driving encompasses multiple motor vehicle offences in the Criminal Code, and is different from charges under the Traffic Safety Act of Alberta (e.g. impaired driving vs careless driving). With a criminal charge, the Calgary Police Service will take your photograph and fingerprints and you will have a police file. A conviction for criminal driving charges may result in a criminal record, whereas convictions under the Traffic Safety Act will only appear on your Driver’s Abstract.
One of the most common types of criminal driving offences in Calgary is impaired driving, resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Statistics Canada reports that Calgary ranks 15th out of 35 major Canadian cities for impaired driving, faring considerably better than Edmonton. The Calgary Police Service is cracking down nonetheless, and these types of charges typically require legal assistance to navigate the complexities of trial.
Criminal driving offences can be found under Section 320 of the Criminal Code. Criminal driving is not an offence in and of itself, but is rather an umbrella term that includes the following offences:
Dangerous driving of a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft causing death or bodily harm;
What is required to be convicted of criminal driving differs based on the offence. With these offences, it is the actions inside the vehicle that are the key elements of the offence, so it is critical to be precise about the circumstances surrounding the driving of the vehicle.
In most criminal driving cases, a conviction may result in harsh penalties that could include mandatory sentencing. Punishments can include jail time, fines, the loss of your driver’s license, and/or a lifelong criminal record.
Investigation of Criminal Driving Charges in Calgary
The Calgary Police Service takes driving offences seriously. They are equipped with a large team of law enforcement officers to maintain traffic safety in the city. If you are stopped by police, you will be routinely checked for driving credentials, and for your license to drive the vehicle that you are operating.
Given the list of offences included under “criminal driving,” many different events can prompt driving offence investigations. An investigation may be initiated by a routine police stop at the side of the road, an accident, or following a report or complaint from an alleged witness or victim.
In their investigation, the police will likely consult surveillance camera footage as well as written statements from the alleged complainant and witnesses. If they believe you are the perpetrator, they will arrest you, whether at the scene of an accident or later.
Penalties for Criminal Driving Charges in Calgary
Because of the broad range of offences classified as “criminal driving,” punishments for a conviction are diverse. They include both criminal penalties imposed by the Calgary court system, and driving suspensions imposed by provincial traffic laws. For example, unique to impaired driving is the addition of an administrative driving suspension that runs alongside, yet separate to criminal charges
In most cases, criminal driving charges do not result in a jail sentence, provided there are no aggravating circumstances and you have a relatively clean criminal record.
However, a conviction for criminal driving can have many negative consequences on your future, nonetheless. You may experience problems securing employment in the field of your choice, especially in roles that require driving. The lifelong criminal record that results from a conviction can also hinder immigration and travel.
Rest assured, our lawyers will work hard to defend you so that you are not saddled with the consequences of a conviction for criminal driving. In fact, we can canvass a range of sentencing options with the Prosecutors that will either leave you with no criminal record or impose minimal restrictions on your liberty after sentencing. To learn more about potential non-criminal resolutions, please visit our Resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.
Defending Criminal Driving Charges in Calgary
What are the best defences to criminal driving charges in Calgary?
Because of the list of offences that fall under the umbrella of “criminal driving,” and the varied circumstances involved in such charges, there are many different possible defences. It is important for your criminal defence lawyer to review the facts of your case and prepare your defence accordingly.
Our experienced lawyers will use the most effective defence against the charges according to the precise circumstances of your case.
For more detailed information on defending your criminal driving charge, see the practice area pages specific to your offence.
How can I help defend criminal driving charges in Calgary?
Because a criminal driving charge relates to the actions you took inside your vehicle, it is essential to clarify the circumstances surrounding these actions and any resulting collision.
If you have been charged with criminal driving in Calgary, the following can help your lawyer build a strong defence:
Make a statement about what happened;
Have passengers write down their observations of what happened;
Collect and maintain all documents and records about the event;
Gather any photographic evidence that you may have; and
Log any relevant texts, emails or phone calls.
What information is relevant will depend on the facts of your case. As soon as you are released, you should start to gather any information that may be of use to your lawyer. If you are uncertain what information may be relevant, you should contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action for gathering information.
If you are truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:
Secure proof of employment,
Secure reference letters,
Enroll in counselling (e.g. alcohol or drug rehabilitation),
Secure a record of prescriptions, and
Secure a record of any mental health conditions you suffer from.
These steps can be very helpful in building an effective defence (or convincing the Prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).
What can a lawyer do to help me defend against criminal driving charges in Calgary?
As we start preparing your defence by examining police actions and the evidence against you, there are certain strategies that can be used to aid your cause.
Some of these strategies include the following:
Assembling documents, photos, texts, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your version of events;
Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches; and
Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.
Our experienced defence lawyers will use the most effective defence against the charges according to the precise circumstances of your case. Even if the charges proceed and you are found guilty, a good lawyer can significantly reduce the severity of the consequences for you.
The information above relates to the umbrella of criminal driving cases but does not delve into offence-specific details.
We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
For more specific information, please see our criminal driving offence pages below:
Dangerous driving of a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft causing death or bodily harm;
To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of Criminal Driving Lawyers. We will conduct a thorough review of your situation and tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.
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