Drugs and drunk driving: is it a serious offense and what are the consequences?
Drunken driving is one of the main causes of accidents in Quebec. According to Quebec government statistics, approximately one out of three deceased drivers exceeded the legal limit of alcohol or had obtained a positive result concerning the presence of certain drugs. In view of these figures, the government is taking the necessary measures to sanction these behaviors. The laws regarding driving while intoxicated or impaired can sometimes confuse us.
Find out why driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a serious offense and your rights when faced with this type of charge.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs according to the Criminal Code of Canada
The Criminal Code contains two offenses dealing with alcohol and drugs while driving. As soon as a person drives a vehicle after consuming alcohol with a blood alcohol level higher than 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, commits a criminal offence. Even if the driver shows no obvious signs of intoxication, he will be charged with committing an offense if the limit of 0.08 is exceeded.
A driver also commits a criminal offense if they drive while impaired by alcohol, drugs or both. This is called impaired driving. In this case, the alcohol consumed is of little importance, it is rather the ability to drive that is assessed. You may have very little alcohol in your blood and not be able to drive again. As a result of these offences, your driver’s license may be withdrawn temporarily or even permanently, and you may be subject to a prison sentence.
Refuse to have their blood alcohol level tested
It is important to know that you are committing a serious offence, in the same way as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if you refuse, without valid reason, to provide the police who arrest you with: breath sample for the breathalyzer; to take a blood test; to follow the policeman for the sample taking and to pass the physical coordination tests.
So if you are guilty of this offence, the same fines and jail time apply as for impaired driving. It is also possible that your driver’s license will be revoked.
what are your rights?
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Quebec gives you rights in the face of a blood alcohol test on the road. Before you decide to take the breathalyzer test or have your blood drawn, you are able to speak to a lawyer in private, usually over the phone. It is also up to the police officer who arrests you to ensure that you know your rights and thus provide you with the relevant information concerning the legal aid duty counsel.
In addition, if charges are laid against you, the police must clearly tell you what the charges are. It is your right to remain silent and to contact a lawyer before giving 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, although it is strongly recommended to appear in court. Indeed, he will be able to support you during your trial. If you plead not guilty or think your rights have been violated, he will take care of building a case to defend you. If you plead guilty, he will try to reduce the sentence that applies to you.
If you have to plead before the Court due to driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, Riendeau Avocats will be able to help you and find the best solution. Contact our team specializing in criminal law to find out your chances of being acquitted of such an offence.