Why It’s Important to Contact a DUI Lawyer in Calgary to Protect Your Rights

Drinking and driving offences, commonly known as DUI’s or .08’s, are some of the most common charges laid under the Criminal Code. If you are charged with a DUI offence, you may face consequences from both the provincial government, acting under the powers of The Traffic Safety Act, and the federal government through the Criminal Code. Consequences include a driver’s license suspension, your car being impounded, a heavy fine, and, in serious cases, prison time. If you are facing an impaired driving charge, a DUI lawyer in Calgary can defend you.

What is a DUI Charge?
Section 253 (1) of the Criminal Code sets out the charges for DUI offences. This section contains four distinct offences:

  • Operating a motor vehicle while impaired;
  • Operating a motor vehicle with blood alcohol over .08 (80 milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood);
  • Care and control of a motor vehicle while impaired; and
  • Care and control of a motor vehicle while over .08.

For these sections, impairment may be caused by alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.

The Criminal Code also creates an offence for failure to provide a breath sample without a reasonable excuse and punishes this offence in the same manner as a DUI offence.

What are the Punishments for a DUI?
Both the provincial and federal government have jurisdiction to create penalties for DUI offences.

Alberta has some of the harshest provincial DUI penalties in the country. Section 88.1 of the Traffic Safety Act of Alberta allows the government to suspend your driver’s license if you are accused of a drinking and driving offence until your matter is resolved in criminal court.

An Alberta DUI penalty was even found to be unconstitutional by the Alberta Court of Appeal in May, 2017 in the case of Sahaluk v Alberta, 2017 ABCA 153. The Court found the administrative license suspension violated constitutional rights of all drivers accused of DUI offences. The court suspended its declaration of invalidity for a period of one year, giving the government time to come up with new, constitutional legislation. This means that until May of 2018, drivers accused of DUI offences can still receive a license suspension until their matter is resolved in court, which could take as long as 18 months. Due to the uncertainty of how Alberta’s administrative license suspension regime will operate going forward, if you are charged with a DUI it is important to contact a criminal lawyer who can advise you of your rights.

If convicted, under the Criminal Code of Canada, a first-time DUI offence carries a fine of at least $1,000 plus a driver’s license suspension of at least one year. For a second DUI conviction, a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for at least 30 days is imposed. Prison time is common for charges of DUI where bodily harm or death of another person was caused.

How a DUI Lawyer Can Help
DUI charges are complex and highly technical. The Criminal Code sets out numerous provisions about how the police are to gather evidence for a DUI case. Having an experienced DUI lawyer in Calgary on your side can ensure your legal rights are protected.

In R. v. Crossley, 2015 ABPC 103 the accused was charged with a DUI after he collided with a road median around 5 a.m. as he sped along a slippery road. While the accused did acknowledge to the officer that he had been drinking, the officer did not notice any signs of impairment immediately. The accused later stumbled and slurred a word and then was arrested for a DUI.

The defence counsel argued that the officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe the accused was impaired. The trial judge agreed with this argument, finding that taking the breath sample was an illegal search and seizure violating the accused’s rights under section 8 of the Charter. Furthermore, the trial judge found the accused was arbitrarily detained contrary to section 9 of the Charter, and that the police not allowing him to access his cell phone to call his lawyer breached his section 10(b) Charter right to an attorney. As a result, the trial judge excluded the breathalyser evidence and acquitted the accused of the charges.

Contact Dennis Kolba Criminal Law Office for an impaired driving lawyer in Calgary.

While no two cases are alike, there is great benefit in having an experienced DUI lawyer in Calgary review your file. Dennis Kolba has over 10 years of experience defending a range of criminal charges, including DUI offences. To arrange your free initial consultation, call today at 403-464-3013.

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