DUI offences such as Impaired Driving, Over 80, Care or Control and Refusals all carry mandatory minimum sentences set by Parliament. The minimum sentences are set out in sections 255 and 259 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Although there are a few nuances, generally speaking, the sentence structure is as follows:
- For a first time offence, the mandatory minimum sentence is a $1,000 fine and a one year driving prohibition.
- For a second DUI offence the mandatory minimum sentence is 30 days of incarceration and a 2 year driving prohibition.
- For a third or subsequent DUI offence, the mandatory minimum sentence is 120 days of incarceration and a 3 year driving prohibition.
The mandatory minimum sentences also mean that if you are convicted of, or plead guilty to, impaired driving, driving with a blood alcohol concentration over 0.08, or refusing to provide a sample, you will receive a criminal record.
It is further important to note that the driving suspensions can be reduced through installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (blow box) in your vehicle after some minimum portion of the suspension. The minimum timeframe is 3 months after conviction for the first offence, and 6 months after conviction for a second or subsequent offence.
There are some narrow exceptions to the mandatory jail minimums. For example, if you commit a second DUI offence before you have been sentenced for the first one, the minimum 30 day sentence doesn’t apply. Moreover, the Crown Prosecutor’s office in your local area likely has internal policies on whether to seek the increased mandatory minimum on second or subsequent offences. This may give you some room to negotiate the sentence down if there is no hope of winning at trial.
The only way to avoid a criminal record for any DUI offence (other than winning at trial) is through a “Curative Discharge” application. For more information about this option, visit our web page regarding this topic.