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THE FIRST 89 DAYS

If charged with an Ontario DUI Criminal Offence, you MUST make an early decision. You can accept the facts as alleged and be sentenced but participate in the Ministry’s programs for an earlier return to driving, OR you can fight the charge and set the matter for trial.

Winning Is Our First Priority

Our first goal as a defence team is to try to get your charges withdrawn or reduced to careless driving. For instance, your lawyer may try to meet with the Crown Attorney to discuss viable options and interview witnesses whose testimony might help win your case. The earlier witnesses are interviewed, the more detailed their recollection of events will be. Information obtained through the witness interview process could play a deciding factor in whether you are successful in fighting your impaired driving charges. Given enough time, your lawyer may even be able to find ways for you to avoid court altogether.

There is No Time to Waste If You Are Charged With An Ontario Impaired Driving Offence

Still, if you have been charged with an Ontario DUI criminal offence, it is best to make an early decision. You have two major options: (1) either fight the charges and possibly set the matter for trial, OR (2) you can accept the facts as alleged and be sentenced but participate in the Ministry’s programs for an earlier return to driving. This decision must be made within 90 days after the date of the offence (we suggest making the choice earlier – within 89 days).

COVID-19 NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has now extended the timeframe to 282 days after the date of the offence.

How Things Will Unfold

Charged with an Ontario DUI criminal offence such as: impaired driving, 80 and over, or refusal to provide a breath sample? The Ontario Ministry of Transportation defines the term “impaired driving” as “driving while your ability is affected by alcohol, drugs, or both.  ” Impaired driving is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada and, if convicted, you will lose your licence and be fined or spend time in jail. Your vehicle does not have to be moving for you to be charged with impaired driving. If you are impaired behind the wheel of your car, even if you have not actually started to drive, you can be charged. Be aware that you can also be charged with impaired driving when you are thought to be impaired while in the driver’s seat of a boat, snow mobile, motorcycle or an all-terrain vehicle – essentially any motorized vehicle or any vessel (motorized or not).

The first and possibly the most important step is to get knowledgeable advice and ideally representation from a competent criminal lawyer experienced in this area of law. The firm of Aitken Robertson has a wealth of experience in DUI law. We can give you a useful FREE 30-minute consultation.

If you then choose to retain us, we will obtain and review your disclosure (which contains the police report etc.). We will meet with the Crown Attorney to discuss possible resolution scenarios and then meet with you to discuss the outcome of the negotiation. If we are retained, we will make sure to have explored all your possible options and we will give you a frank assessment of each one. You will then be in a position to make an informed decision about what would be the best option for you. You may decide to plead guilty to take advantage of the ministry’s programs or you might decide to fight the charge and go to trial. Either way, we will be there to help you through the process.

Hiring an experienced Ontario DUI criminal defence lawyer is one of the smartest moves that you can make to deal with your impaired, 80 and over or refuse charges. You will improve your chances of avoiding conviction. Or, if your case resolves with a plea you will improve your chances of getting a good plea deal.

Pleas of Guilty for Ontario DUI Criminal Offences

It may be that you decide that pleading guilty is your best option, particularly in light of the “Stream A” option that allows first-time offenders to drive again as early as 90 days after conviction, and “Stream D” which allows second-time offenders to drive again as early as 9 months after conviction. For more information on these programs please see our section on Penalties.

Before you plead guilty to your Ontario DUI criminal offence, there are a few things you must realize.

  1. You need to understand that you have a right to a trial to force the Crown to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. By pleading guilty you are giving up that right.
  2. You need to understand that by entering a plea of guilty you are admitting that the facts alleged against you are substantially correct.
  3. The choice to plead guilty is yours and yours alone. No one can force you to plead guilty.
  4. The judge will listen to what we have to say about sentencing, as well as what the Crown suggests. Judges will usually follow joint submissions (i.e., some sort of plea bargain we have agreed upon with the Crown), but the final decision as to sentence is always up to the Judge.
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