I want to talk to you today about DUI charges and specifically where the blood alcohol readings (“BAC”) are under 120 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood.
What happened during the Covid-19 pandemic this summer is that in August the Ministry of the Attorney General basically gave a new directive to their crown attorneys that for BAC readings under 120, they are to consider whether a careless driving guilty plea offer should be made. In other words, you would plead guilty to careless driving which is a non-criminal charge under the Highway Traffic Act and the crown would withdraw the DUI charge. This would be a great result.
This new directive was really prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the summer because of the perception of trial delay developing in the criminal court system. The crowns are very concerned about the potential for trial delay occurring in the Ontario criminal courts due to the covid-19 pandemic. Crown Attorneys are actually taking a hard look at all of these cases whether the BAC reading is below 120 or above 120.
For a BAC reading below 120, the crown will strongly consider a careless driving guilty plea as long as there are no aggravating circumstances such as a motor vehicle, a child in your vehicle or obviously a death or bodily injury. As of August 2020, for a garden variety DUI with BAC readings under 120, the crown attorneys will often offer an accused a careless driving plea. The guilty plea to careless driving might still require a shorter licence suspension or installation of an ignition interlock device in your car, but the great benefit is you will not receive a criminal record. Your DUI charge would be withdrawn by the crown and the person really walks out of the courtroom with a much better deal than receiving a devastating criminal record. It is a win/win situation for both the defendant and the crown. This has been one of the very positive developments prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic because of the perception of possible trial delay developing in the province. Certainly, our law firm has been getting great deals for DUI cases across the province for BAC readings below 120.
Even for BAC readings over 120, we have been receiving many careless driving guilty plea offers whenever we can show the crown we have a at least a viable defense. Pre-covid for BAC readings above 120, it was very rare for the crown to offer a careless driving plea unless the defence case was very strong. However, the covid-19 pandemic has now prompted the crown to offer careless driving pleas in many cases above 120 as long as the defence is at least viable at say, a 50% or more level. So there are many great deals to be had during covid for drinking and driving cases.
So there you have it. That is the answer to the question regarding what is going on with BAC readings under 120 in Ontario due to the covid-19 pandemic.