By Adam Higgins
3.3% of alcohol-impaired cases ended in acquittal and 12% ended in dropped, dismissed or withdrawn charges.
3.8% of drug-impaired cases ended in an acquittal and 25% ended in dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn charges.
The Endgame Goals
“Winning” a DUI case really is a subjective term. The outcome you consider a win depends on your needs, the specifics of your case, and the evidence the Crown Attorney has. For some a win may simply be avoiding a criminal charge, which can be done through a deal with a Crown that reduces your charges to a provincial offence such as careless driving. For others they may need the charges dropped or an acquittal, for example if their career involved driving, as any driving violation could impact their work. Consider the following options and scenarios to determine what kind of outcome you need.
Reduction of Charges
Reduced charges can be a win if your charges are unlikely to be dropped and you’d like to avoid trial. For DUI charges it’s possible to have them lowered on the spectrum of DUI charges, or even dropped out of a criminal offence to a violation of the Highway Traffic Act.
If, for example, you were charged with over 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, this is your first offence, and no one was injured, it’s possible that your charges could be reduced to careless driving. Unlike a DUI, careless driving is a provincial offence and carries no criminal record. If you work in a field like education or law enforcement then maintaining a clear criminal record is likely a major win for you, as it will prevent difficult hiccups in your employment. Getting such a result can be a challenge.
For example, Richard Aitken was able to have charges of operating a motor vehicle while over 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and novice driving with over 0mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood reduced to simple careless driving. If the client was found guilty he would have faced a major fine, licence suspension, and a criminal record, but instead only faced a fine. For a more detailed review of this case click here.
Dropped Charges and Acquittal
Having the charges dropped and being acquitted aren’t synonymous. Having the charges dropped means the Crown stops pursuing the charges, while an acquittal means the court has found you not guilty of the charges. Having the charges dropped can be accomplished before a trial even begins if your defence can demonstrate to the Crown that their evidence won’t be even close to sufficient in trial. The Crown may drop to charges to save resources, which can be focused on cases they have a better chance of winning. You can get an acquittal by creating reasonable doubt in the Crown’s case during trial, often by showing weakness in their evidence or demonstrating that the evidence was obtained by violating one of your rights under the Charter.
For example, if you’re charged with driving under the influence causing bodily harm, and the police bring you to the station where you wait for a number of hours before processing, you may have a case under s.9 of the Charter, which protects against unreasonable detainment. Or if the police fail to inform you of your right to obtain counsel, you may have a case under s.10(b).
In 2015 Richard Aitken had a client successfully acquitted when he realized that the police holding cell at the police station that housed his client after her arrest was on a closed circuit camera monitored by police. He obtained the video footage as disclosure and found footage proving that the police were able to watch the client using the washroom. Mr. Aitken argued before the court that this was a violation of the client’s right to privacy, and she was acquitted. For a more detailed review of the case click here.
Can We Repeat Our Past Victories?
I should preface this by stating that our past victories are not indicative of future ones. All cases, clients, Crown lawyers, and judges, are unique. However, Aitken Robertson has decades of criminal defence, primarily focusing on DUI law, and we’re confident in our ability to defend any client against such charges.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in the Whitby area you’ll be tried before the court of Oshawa, located only a few hundred meters from our office. We offer all those accused with a crime in Ontario seeking defence counsel a free 30-minute consultation where we get a greater understanding of your case, and explore your options with you. For a better understanding of how we can help you during your proceedings order a free copy of our book 17 Secrets to Helping You Survive Your DUI Charge here.
1. Impaired Driving in Canada, 2015 (2016), Samuel Perreault, Statistics Canada, Juristat.