Driving after consuming drugs or alcohol: is this considered a serious offence?
Drinking and driving is one of the main causes of accidents in Quebec. According to Quebec government statistics, about one in three drivers who died exceeded the legal blood alcohol limit or had a positive result for the presence of certain drugs. In light of these figures, the government takes the necessary measures to punish these behaviours. The laws regarding driving a vehicle while intoxicated or impaired can sometimes be confusing.
Find out why driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a serious offence and the rights you have when faced with this type of charge.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs under the Criminal Code of Canada
The Criminal Code contains two offences dealing with alcohol and drugs while driving. It is a criminal offence for a person to drive a vehicle after consuming alcohol with a blood alcohol level above 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. Even if the driver shows no obvious signs of intoxication, he will be charged with an offence if the.08 limit is exceeded.
A driver also commits a criminal offence if he or she drives while impaired by alcohol, drugs or both. We are talking about impaired driving. In this case, the alcohol consumed is of little importance, it is rather the ability to drive that is assessed. You can have very little alcohol in your blood and be unable to drive again. As a result of these offences, your driver’s licence can be temporarily or permanently revoked and you may be subject to a prison sentence.
Refusing to have your blood alcohol level tested
You are considered to be committing a serious offence, similar to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if you refuse, without good reason, to provide the police officers who arrest you with: a breath sample for the breathalyzer test; a blood test; following the officer for the sample and taking field sobriety tests.
If you are guilty of this offence, the same fines and jail sentences apply as for impaired driving. You may also have your driver’s licence revoked.
What are your rights?
The Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants you rights in the event of a blood alcohol content check on the road. Before deciding to take a breathalyzer test or blood test, you are able to speak to a lawyer in private, usually by phone. It is also up to the police officer who arrests you to ensure that you understand your rights and provide you with relevant information about the legal aid duty counsel.
In addition, if charges are laid against you, the police must clearly state what the charges are. It is your right to remain silent and to contact a lawyer before making an oral or written statement. It is also your right to refuse to provide a statement.
The importance of hiring a lawyer
Hiring a lawyer is never mandatory, though it is strongly recommended when going to court. He will be able to support you during your trial. If you plead not guilty or believe that your rights have been violated, he or she will be responsible for building a case to defend you. If you plead guilty, he will try to reduce the sentence that applies to you.
If you are required to plead before the Court due to driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, Riendeau Lawyers can help you and find the best solution. Contact our criminal law specialists to determine your chances of being acquitted of such an offence.