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DUI Charge – How Do I Determine The Penalty?


  • Failure or Refusal to Comply with a Breath or Blood Demand;
  • Driving “Over 80”;
  • Impaired Driving


For any one of the above-noted offences, the penalty will depend on a number of factors. These include:

  • whether it is your first offence,
  • the nature of your criminal record, if any,
  • aggravating factors (i.e.: collision, injury, high DUI readings),
  • mitigating factors and
  • the date of your offence.

Accordingly, to learn the precise type of penalty you are facing, you would need to consult one of our lawyers at Aitken Robertson. Nevertheless, generally the type of penalty you are looking at for the above offences are:

  • fines;
  • driving prohibition;
  • probation;
  • alcohol counselling;
  • other form(s) of counselling; and/or
  • imprisonment.

Keep in mind that whether the Crown chooses to proceed summarily (less serious offence) or by indictment (more serious offence) will also impact the type of penalty imposed.


On pleading guilty to an offence, should that be the best way to dispose of your matter, the judge will then impose a sentence to be served. Again, a number of factors are considered that inform the type of sentence imposed. These are as follows:

  • Age
  • Plea of Guilty
  • Early Plea of Guilty
  • Driving Record
  • Prior Licence Suspensions
  • Criminal Record
  • Offences since or while on Bail
  • Amount to Drink
  • Excessive Speed
  • Attempt to Evade Responsibility
  • Death or Injury
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Family Situation
  • Health
  • Injuries to Accused
  • Collateral Consequences
  • Effect on Insurance
  • Effect on Employment
  • Treatment, past or future, including therapy for alcoholism, education programs or Alcoholics Anonymous (if appropriate)

Other supporting factors to improve your chances of a better sentence include:

  • Character references should be obtained in appropriate cases to be used as witnesses or to provide letters of reference for sentencing purposes
  • Certificates of counselling completion
  • Attendance and enrolment in treatment programs (where applicable)
  • Proof of employment
  • Proof of enrolment in education

Some Examples of Types of Sentences

Conditional Sentence – Section 742.1 Criminal Code

You could be ordered to serve your sentence in the community where the sentence imposed is less than two years and the court is satisfied that it would not endanger the safety of the community and would be consistent with the fundamental principles of sentencing as set out in sections 718 to 718.2 of the Criminal Code. Most of the time, this type of sentence is imposed on first time offenders.

 Licence Prohibition Order

This will be a mandatory sentence for a person convicted of impaired driving, under the Criminal Code of Canada. The length of time will depend on various factors as well as the specific facts of your case. Generally, you are looking at 1 to 3 year driving prohibition. However, you could also receive a lifetime ban if certain preconditions apply in your case.

Again, it is important to consult with a lawyer at Aitken Robertson to get a better idea of your case. For instance, we will inform you about your ability to drive sooner than the driving prohibition imposed by the Criminal Code through the Ministry of Transportation’s Stream programs. In a nutshell, this requires that you complete a short program, pay your fines, and after a three month driving suspension following the date of conviction, begin driving with an interlock ignition lock. While this will costly you a monthly lease, at least, you will be able to drive again without waiting a prolonged period of time.


A probation order cannot exceed a three-year term. This sentence applies for cases where an offender is fined or sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years. You are required to follow the conditions outlined in the probation order. A failure to do so is a criminal offence.

First or Second Offence?

One thing to keep in mind is that when you receive a second, third or further conviction for impaired driving, the penalties are more severe than those for a first-time offender. For example, the penalty will likely include a short period of jail time.

The Aitken Robertson Team

The lawyers at Aitken Robertson have extensive experience with impaired driving offences. The lawyers are in the position to advance your case and give it the best chance of favourable resolution. We have a number of offices servicing various jurisdictions. We also offer free 30-minute consultations. Give us a call or book an appointment to meet one of our lawyers in person and learn about how best to approach your specific matter.

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