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Other FAQs on Specific Topics

Drinking and Driving Law is quite complex. While a person might well be able to represent themselves on a simple shoplifting case, such is not the case with impaired driving. It would be too difficult.

However, at Aitken Robertson we will explain the law to the client so that they understand the process, and can be fully engaged in the process.

It is important to retain a lawyer right away so that evidence is not lost and your case compromised. Remember the police kept notes as events unfolded and you did not. One of the most important steps is for the client to write down exactly what happened before their memories fades. This will assist the lawyer in the defence of the case.

Maybe. In the context of impaired driving, the goal is to win or have the charge reduced to careless driving. We can’t give you your odds until we have received the complete disclosure including video. Some cases are better than others. Obviously the lower the readings the better. In addition, some Crown Attorney’s Offices are more interested in making a deal than others are.

However, we will give our blunt opinion about your chances for success so that you can decide on the best course of action.

Normally if charged with over 80 or refuse/fail to provide a sample there is an immediate 90 day licence suspension. Appeals of this administrative suspension are virtually impossible. You would need to prove that someone had impersonated you or that you had such severe medical problems such as lung disease that it was not possible for you to provide a sample.

Once the 90 days have expired, assuming that you have not pled or been found guilty in the interim, and once you have paid the licence reinstatement fee, you will be able to drive again, pending the final conclusion of your case.

Duty counsel will not do trials. Apart from that, duty counsel can only assist if you fall within a very limited income range. While duty counsel are generally excellent lawyers, the reality is given the volume of clients they represent in a given day, they may only be able to speak to you or to the Crown on your behalf for 5 minutes. If your case ends up being adjourned, it is likely that duty counsel will be someone else next time, leading to a lack of continuity.

Factors determining price include:

  • the seriousness and complexity of your case,
  • the experience and skill level of the lawyer,
  • if a trial, how long the trial will take, and
  • the results of the lawyer’s efforts.

Some lawyers charge by the hour and a fee estimate can be challenging to estimate. At Aitken Robertson we always give the clients a ‘fixed’ (‘flat’) fee quote in writing. We keep to the fee and will not increase it. Sometimes the fee is even less than predicted. We do not bill by the hour.

Yes, payment plans are available. No one plans on using a lawyer so no one has set aside money for that purpose. Generally speaking our clients pay monthly payments by VISA, MASTERCARD, Debit, or cheque. Payments can be spread out over time. Aitken Robertson does not charge interest for these payment plans in most cases. We try to make legal services affordable to the public.

If it is a speeding ticket or careless driving a paralegal can and in fact might even do a better job than a lawyer. However, for criminal matters, even where a paralegal is allowed to provide representation, lawyers have additional training which generally will make the lawyer the preferred choice. Sometimes, a client can only afford a paralegal, and in such cases, hiring a paralegal makes great sense. For impaired driving, over 80, refuse/fail to provide, paralegals are not allowed to handle these sorts of files, and a lawyer only is able to provide representation.

It is similar to asking how to choose a doctor. Some of the questions you might want to ask the lawyer are:

  1. Does the lawyer only practise criminal law as opposed to a general practice;
  2. Even if the lawyer only practises criminal law, does their practice mostly consist of drinking and driving cases;
  3. Does the lawyer have additional qualifications such as being a qualified breath technician;
  4. How many years of experience does the lawyer have?
  5. What is their success rate;
  6. Does the lawyer have colleagues at the same firm available to bounce ideas off of (at no additional cost to the client)
  7. How much personal attention will I get from the lawyer;
  8. Is the person I am speaking with a lawyer or a paralegal or sales person?
  9. How much will the cost be, and can the payments be spread over time.
  10. After speaking with the lawyer, am I left with a sense of confidence?
  1. Copy of my Promise to Appear, release papers, breathalyzer printouts;
  2. Copy of full crown disclosure including any videos and maintenance records for the breath machine;
  3. My written best recollection of what happened when stopped and arrested in a memo entitled ‘for my lawyer only’;
  4. A list of all questions I have about the lawyer’s experience in DUI cases, successes, testimonials, qualifications as a breath tech, membership in professional organizations, and details as to who will handle my file;
  5. A payment plan should I decide I want to retain the lawyer;
  6. My brief biography including all prior drinking and driving offences, including any from New York State and Michigan & details as to any pardons;
  7. A list of any witnesses I have or any bar receipts that I have;
  8. My questions I may have about whether a conviction can affect my driver’s licence, insurance, my job, and travel opportunities

You must get your fingerprints done for identification purposes.  If you don’t, you will face a further criminal charge.

While it is unlikely that the police will question you about your charges when you are being fingerprinted, do not talk about why you were charged. Show them only the paperwork that brought you to the station for prints but otherwise clam up.

If we are successful in having the charges withdrawn or you are acquitted we may be able to get your photos and fingerprints destroyed from the police database.

You cannot prevent your name from being published or broadcast as it is public information and there is the freedom of the press.  However, unless the case is notorious it will not get much (if any) press.

It depends on the nature of your job and the sort of charge you face.

For example a teacher charged with internet luring would need to reveal it to their employer if convicted. A roofer facing a break and enter charge would not generally need to discuss it with an employer.

Sometimes your obligations are set out in your written contract or if you are part of a professional body such as a lawyer or nurse—there are likely regulations concerning charges.

This depends on how serious the charge is and whether you have been convicted. 

You will need to check your release conditions to see if you have a curfew or must stay in Ontario.  Sometimes these terms can be varied in advance.  Normally if the charge is still proceeding in court and there has not been a conviction, it will not be a problem to enter another country. 

A DUI conviction will not normally bar you from visiting the beaches of Florida.  A drug possession or child pornography conviction certainly will.

Each case is different.  There may be specifics of yours that could lead to a ‘win’ or at least a reduction of your charge to something other than a criminal conviction.

It is advisable to consult with a lawyer to determine the realistic outcomes for your particular case and why a particular result is especially important to your unique situation.

Every case is different.  All are important to the client.

Particularly with domestic assaults, bail changes need to be considered to deal with such important issues as child custody and care, communication relating to who is paying which bill, and other major family issues.

The bail terms continue until they are:

  • changed in writing,
  • all charges have been withdrawn,
  • you have been acquitted of all of them, or
  • you have been sentenced.
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