Know Your Rights: DUI Cases

Some Toronto criminal lawyers base their entire practice around DUI or drinking and driving cases. These cases often involve technical defences and can include challenging the functionality of the roadside test device or breath room devices, this is also known as challenging the readings.

When the police stop a driver at either a ride spot check or for a highway traffic stop, police can make a demand for a breath sample or to blow into the roadside test device, called an ASD (approved screening device). It registers a pass or a fail, or a warn. If the person under investigation fails the roadside test, they are taken to a police division with a Breathalyzer machine. This part of the testing for blood alcohol must be done by a Officer who is a trained breath technician. The device used at most Police Stations is often Intoxilyzer. If you blow a warn at the roadside in Ontario, you are given a three day suspension and your vehicle may be towed.

In many cases the police may not have had the required grounds to compel the person to give a breath sample, and in those cases the charge may be defended by way of a Charter challenge, pursuant to section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There are also a number of cases where persons under detention are not told why they are being detained, are detained without being given their rights to counsel or are not allowed to call Counsel. This violates sections 10(a) and 10(b) of the Charter.

Care and Control cases can be much different. In these cases, the defence is not whether the person had been drinking but whether or not they occupied the driver’s seat for the purposes of driving or were a danger to the public by being intoxicated in the vehicle. In these cases the defence often admits that the defendant had been drinking but call evidence to show that they were in their vehicle for warmth, to wait for someone, or for another innocent purpose and there was no real risk of danger to the public.

If you are charged with a DUI, drinking and driving, or care and control offence it is best to consult with a lawyer about your case, as there may be a defence available to you. However, if you are in the position that you want to resolve the matter by way of a guilty plea there is an ignition interlock program available to allow a person to drive after only three months of suspension. Provided all fines are paid, you can have an ignition interlock device installed and get your licence back.