Impaired driving (also know as a DUI) captures a wide range of criminal alcohol and drug driving related conduct, and is one of the more common criminal offences in Edmonton. In 2015 the Edmonton Police Service reported a total of 1,573 impaired driving arrests. According to statistics that were presented in Sahaluk v. Alberta (Transportation Safety Board) , 81% of those charged with an impaired driving offence in Alberta were convicted of the offence. These numbers are in stark contrast to conviction rates for persons who hire a criminal defence lawyer. The reality is that there are many defences to these types of charges, and our lawyers win the vast majority of cases for our clients.
While we tend to talk about impaired driving as a single offence, in Edmonton and surrounding area you can actually be charged with 5 distinct base level alcohol/drug -related driving offences:
Impaired Driving (which includes actual driving or Care or Control of a motor vehicle under s. 320.14(1)(a) of the Criminal Code)
The charge for impaired driving is found under s. 320.14 of the Criminal Code. This provision criminalizes the operation of a motor vehicle while your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired by drug or alcohol. It is important to know that according to this provision, you will be found guilty of the offence if you are impaired and are operating any of the following:
· Any type of motor vehicle including motorbikes, ATVs, motorcycles etc…
· Any type of vessel or motorized boat
· Any type of aircraft
· Any type of railway equipment
In order to be charged with this offence, the vehicle does not actually need to be in motion. Technically, even if the vehicle was off and you were sitting in your driveway, you can be charged with this offence. In fact, all that is needed to convict you is proof that the the vehicle was operational, you were impaired by alcohol or drug, and that there was a risk that your use of the vehicle might cause it to become a danger. In law, we refer to this as being in care or control of a motor vehicle while impaired.
For the purposes of an impaired driving charge, it does not matter how much you drank. As long as the Crown prosecutor can prove that your ability to operate the vehicle was impaired even slightly by the consumption of alcohol, drug, or a combination of both, you can be found guilty of this offence.
The Punishment for Impaired Driving in Edmonton
In Edmonton, as in the rest of Canada, if you are charged with an alcohol related offence you will be facing a harsh mandatory minimum sentence. If convicted of impaired driving, driving over the limit, or refusal, for your first offence you will automatically face a minimum 1 year driving prohibition and $1000 fine. If this is your second offence, you are looking at a minimum of 30 days in jail plus a driving suspension of at least 2 years. If this is your third offence, you will have a minimum 120 days in jail and a minimum driving suspension of 3 years. There are also further suspensions that will likely be imposed by the Alberta Transportation Safety Board, which makes the consequence of such a conviction quite severe.
If you have been charged with an drug/alcohol related driving offence and you seem to have no defences for your charges and you live in Edmonton or anywhere else in Alberta, it does not necessarily mean all hope is lost. Many people who are charged with impaired driving offences have a legitimate alcohol addiction. Our courts are understanding enough to recognize that alcohol addiction is a disease that often leads people to commit this offence. Rather than sentencing you to jail for your disease, the court may allow you to avoid a jail sentence with curative treatment.
Bail Conditions for Impaired Driving in Edmonton
If you have been charged with Impaired Driving or another alcohol-related driving offence in Edmonton, you will face an immediate licence suspension through the Alberta Administrative Licence Suspension program. This licence suspension is not the same one as the one-year mandatory licence suspension that follows a conviction for Impaired Driving, Refusal, or Over 80. The one-year mandatory prohibition following a finding of guilt will not start until after you have been found guilty of the offence.
It is important to know that the time you spend on suspension waiting to go to trial, or the time that you spend waiting for sentencing will not count towards the post-conviction suspension. There are ways to challenge this AALS, but the window to do so is very short (30 days from the date of suspension), and the grounds for the challenge are few. There are also ways to ease this AALS suspension through the Ignition Interlock Program. We encourage you to contact our office as soon as possible to explore these options before the limitation period for an effective challenge runs out.
Following your arrest and release for impaired driving, you will be directed by the police to attend Edmonton Provincial Court to enter a plea to the offence, and you will also be directed to attend a police station for the purposes of fingerprinting. Typically, your first appearance will be set in a docket courtroom like courtroom 265. In Edmonton, fingerprinting is done at the Edmonton Police Headquarters at 962-103A Avenue, Edmonton AB, T5H 0H7. It is vital that you comply with the licence suspension, and the direction to attend court and get your fingerprinting done. A failure to comply with any of the terms of your release can result in a new criminal charge being laid against you. Because it can take anywhere from 3 to 10 months to go to trial for a DUI charge in Edmonton, it is in your best interest to get in touch with someone from our Edmonton office as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the longer you can be kept off the road.
At Strategic Criminal Defence, we have developed a very strong focus on defending drug and alcohol-related driving offences. Collectively, our team has defended thousands of impaired driving charges, and we have the experience and knowledge needed to provide you with sound advice on the best way to handle your matter. Set up a meeting with one of our criminal defence lawyers at our Edmonton office, and we will be able to review your case and help you quickly determine the most effective and efficient way to defend your impaired driving charges.
Ellen did wonderful stuff for me and got my charges stayed she is an awesome lawyer and I would recommend her too anyone thank you so much for your help this past year
Best lawyer in town I highly recommend DAN and his team they went above and beyond on my case best experience with this law firm highly highly recommend
I highly recommended Jessica she got all my charges withdrawn and I didn’t even have to show up to one court hearing she took care of everything so I got to stay working and didn’t have to miss a day the only time I was going to have to show up was trial but it didn’t get that far before she got all charges withdrawn if I could give them a ten I would best lawyer I’ve ever had and actually tried to get them withdrawn not just get me fines and on probation!!!
I’m glad I made the right choice to retain the legal services of Mr. Daniel Murphy who represented me in a very difficult criminal case that was very hard to beat due to the circumstances surrounding the case. Mr. Murphy advised me wisely and approached the matter with a well-planned legal strategy. He is well versed with the law and plans ahead. I’m grateful for the depth of intellect he has brought to the court. He is firm, fair and understands the tactics of the crown prosecutors and will not be caught unaware of their plans.