Have you been charged with impaired driving in Toronto? There is probably a lot going through your mind. Did you really drink that much? What if you had taken a different route home? Why didn’t you call a taxi? And now, with a pending court date, you’re wondering whether a DUI defence lawyer is worth the money. Can you defend yourself instead?
The possible costs of a DUI conviction can be huge. Fines, lengthy licence suspensions, increased insurance rates, and even jail time are on the table. These negative repercussions and the stigma of a criminal record can cost you both in the short and long terms. Hiring a proficient Toronto DUI lawyer is well worth the investment. From a cost-benefit perspective, the legal fees are a sound financial decision. Safeguard your future and improve your chances of a favorable outcome.
Potential Penalties for an Impaired Driving Charge
Even before you go to court, you already incur costs. You must pay vehicle towing and impound fees, for example. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (“MTO”) will automatically suspend your licence for 90 days as soon as you are charged with a DUI (i.e. before you have even been found guilty of the offence). Before you think about representing yourself in an Ontario DUI case, consider the possible penalties you will face if convicted:
- A minimum fine of $1,000 for a first offence with escalating fines for higher breath readings of 120 and 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
- Victim fine surcharge of 30% of the fine amount
- A jail term of up to ten years if the crown elects by indictment
- Mandatory minimum driving prohibition of one year for a first-time offender
- A judge has the discretion to impose up to a 3-year driving prohibition even for a first-time offender
- A mandatory minimum MTO administrative licence suspension of one year for a first time offender, three years for a second-time offender, and a lifetime suspension for a third DUI conviction)
- Mandatory enrollment in the “Back on Track” program
- Mandatory ignition interlock device
“Back on Track” is Ontario’s program for impaired drivers. You must take this three-part course if convicted. The 2023 cost of the program is $894.
The ignition interlock device will cost you, too. The handheld breath-testing device is connected to the car’s ignition switch. Fees for the ignition interlock include monthly rent and monitoring, plus a security deposit. You may also have to pay for installation and removal. If the device is lost or stolen, you can be charged over $1,000 to replace it. If you drive without the device, you may be fined up to $1,000 and face a jail term for driving while disqualified.
These costs can add up very quickly. While your license is suspended, you’ll need to arrange for other modes of transportation. But the potential long-term effects are often the more profound impact of an impaired driving conviction.
Long-Term Effects of a DUI Conviction
The monetary costs of an impaired driving charge can be substantial. But the non-monetary punishments can have an even bigger impact on your life. This is especially true with a second DUI conviction, which can affect your future prospects for years to come by saddling you with the following:
- A permanent criminal record
- Increased car insurance premiums
- Loss of employment or income
- Reduced employment and other opportunities
- Lengthy mandatory minimum jail terms for second and third offences
When you have been convicted of impaired driving, your car insurance premiums will skyrocket. While you are in jail, you are not working. When you get out of jail, your criminal record follows you. This can make it much more difficult to find a job. If a position requires a security clearance, you become a less desirable candidate. The criminal record could limit other opportunities as well. These include international travel and community involvement. The courts may hold a DUI conviction against you in child custody and divorce settlements.
Hiring a skilled DUI defence lawyer increases your chances of winning your case, having your charges reduced, or decreasing the penalties. Avoiding jail time and seeking shorter license suspensions can make a world of difference. The fact is that hiring a lawyer is far less expensive in many ways than a DUI conviction.
How a DUI Defence Lawyer Helps Your Case
When you are charged with driving under the influence, you might not know what to do. The Toronto DUI defence lawyers at Kruse Law have the skill, knowledge, and years of experience to properly represent you in court. We have defended thousands of clients against DUI charges. We look at each case in detail to formulate the best defence strategy possible.
There are ways to exclude and suppress evidence based on constitutional violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For example, breaching your right to counsel is a common error that the police make processing impaired driving cases. Take your blood alcohol content (BAC) reading, for instance. It is possible to dispute its accuracy. There are also technical reasons to dismiss a DUI charge. Did the police make a mistake or not follow the proper procedures? Our lawyers have an excellent understanding of Ontario law. Our team is also skilled at negotiating with the Crown Attorney and making effective submissions during pre-trial meetings with judges and during sentencing hearings in court. Our impaired driving lawyers regularly conduct DUI trials and have a consistently winning track record. If you represent yourself, you leave yourself vulnerable to the fullest extent of the law.
We understand that potential legal fees may concern you. That’s why we offer a free meeting where we can provide you with some useful general information, point you in the right direction, and provide an exact quote to represent you. You can consider your options and make an informed decision. Invest in yourself and protect your future. Let us help you avoid significant fines, penalties, jail time, and a permanent criminal record.