A driving under the influence charge, or DUI, is a severe charge which can lead to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. Not only can this penalty apply for a driver who is intoxicated by alcohol, but more recently, it now applies to drivers who are intoxicated by cannabis. If you are charged with a DUI, it can potentially be reduced to careless driving. But, how can a DUI charge be fought? And, what is the difference between a DUI charge and careless driving?
DUI charges are severe, and can often lead to long-lasting impacts on your licence, your criminal record, and possibly even your current or future employment. If possible, you can fight the charge in court and possibly have it reduced to careless driving. If charged with a DUI, the prosecutors in your case need to establish that your ability to drive was compromised by drugs and/or alcohol beyond a reasonable doubt. To do this, prosecutors can call on witness testimonies to confirm that you have driven while impaired. Witness testimonies could include police, first responders, or pedestrians who were also at the scene. One way a DUI charge can be fought is by challenging the witness testimonies; if no witness can confirm that they saw you operating the vehicle, operating the vehicle illegally or that you were indeed intoxicated, it can result in a dismissal of a DUI charge.
Another way to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence is by calling to question the scientific validity of the blood alcohol content test, or BAC. The BAC can be challenged as evidence if, for example, the test was conducted hours after you had stopped driving your vehicle. Moreover, the BAC can also be challenged if how the test was done violates your section 8 right in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 8 is the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. If how the BAC test was taken had invaded your privacy, the validity of the BAC can be challenged (The World Financial Review, 2020). These are just a few ways in which a DUI charge can be challenged in court. However, a DUI charge, similar to many other charges, is dependent on your particular circumstances. If in the case that your DUI charge has been successfully reduced to careless driving, what does it mean? And how is careless driving different from that of a DUI charge?
Careless driving is far less severe in comparison with a DUI charge. If you are charged with a DUI for the first time, it may result in a minimum of $1,000 in fines, or a maximum of 10 years imprisonment (Government of Canada, 2021). In comparison, careless driving is not a criminal offence, unlike a DUI charge. Under the Highway Traffic Act, careless driving is defined as the following, “Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway” (Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O 1990, 130(1)). The punishment for careless driving is also less severe in comparison to the punishment for DUI, with a minimum fine of $400, and a maximum of $2,000. Moreover, careless driving also has a maximum imprisonment of 6 months and suspension of a driver’s licence for a maximum of two years (Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O 1990, 130(2)). If, however, you injured another individual in your accident, careless driving resulting in the injury of another person is harsher. The potential punishment for this is a minimum of $2,000 in fines, and a maximum of $50,000 in fines. Moreover, it can also result in a maximum of 2 years in prison and your licence can be suspended for a maximum of five years (Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O 1990, 130(4)).
Overall, a DUI is much more severe in comparison to careless driving in regards to possible punishments. If you have been unfortunately charged with a DUI, it may be beaten in court and reduced to careless driving, depending on the circumstances. DUIs have long-lasting effects on the individuals who have been charged with them, so if possible; you may wish to consider fighting the charge in court. As stated previously, it is possible to fight a DUI charge in court, and it may be reduced.