DRIVING AT OR OVER 0.08
A single mistake on the roads can have devastating consequences for your future if you simply admit guilt.
If you are caught driving over the legal limit in Canada, the initial penalties are harsh but the longer-term consequences of a criminal record make it a very expensive mistake.
Therefore, pleading guilty to a drunk driving offence is never the best option until you have discussed possible defences with an experienced DUI lawyer.
Cory Wilson may be able to mitigate the consequences and pursue either case dismissal or acquittal at trial. If that’s not possible, we will ensure that the justice system treats you fairly and provides another chance for offenders.
What is Driving At or Over 0.08?
The legal limit in Canada is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood – otherwise known as 0.08.
If you drive at this Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or above, you can be arrested and charged with driving at or over 0.08.
This is a criminal offence defined by Section 320.14(1)(b) of the Canadian Criminal Code:
“Everyone commits an offence who, subject to subsection (5), has, within two hours after ceasing to operate a conveyance, a blood alcohol concentration that is equal to or exceeds 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood”
A “conveyance” means a motor vehicle, a vessel, an aircraft or railway equipment.
Note that, with the “two hours after” specification, a driver who consumes alcohol immediately after driving (and not while driving or before) can be convicted of driving at or over 0.08. Representation from an experienced DUI lawyer is essential to ensure this does not happen.
You do not need a reading of 0.08 or over to be charged with “impaired driving”, which is the term we use in Canada for DUI. Impaired driving is a completely separate offence. The police do not need to prove a specific amount of alcohol in your blood – only that your ability to operate a motor vehicle (or other “conveyance”) was impaired because of alcohol or drugs.
To achieve a conviction for driving at or over 0.08, the police must prove that your alcohol level was, indeed, at or over the legal limit. Unlike with impaired driving, the prosecution does not need to provide evidence that your ability to drive was impaired.
So, even if you have a high alcohol tolerance and believe you can drive unimpaired even after “one too many” drinks, the law does not see it that way. If stopped and tested, you will likely be charged with the serious offence of driving at or over 0.08.
Two drivers who blow the same reading on a breathalyzer may display very different levels of impairment – but if the reading is above 0.08, both drivers are guilty of the same offence.
The impaired driver may face a separate charge of impaired driving in addition to driving at or over 0.08.
Penalties for Driving At or Over 0.08
The severity of the penalties you will face for driving at or over 0.08 will depend largely on what your BAC is and whether you have a past criminal driving record.
The Canadian justice system clamps down hard on drink-driving offences and repeat offenders face minimum jail terms as well as significant fines and other penalties.
For first-time offenders
- BAC of 80 – 110mg of alcohol: a fine of at least $1,000
- BAC of 120 – 150mg of alcohol: a fine of at least $1,500
- BAC of 160mg or more of alcohol: a fine of at least $2,000
Additionally, offenders face a minimum of a one-year driving prohibition, with immediate eligibility for an Ignition Interlock Device (a blow box for your car that allows you to continue driving legally if you have consumed no alcohol).
For a second offence
- A minimum 30-day jail sentence, and
- A minimum driving prohibition of two years, eligible for Ignition Interlock Device after three months.
For a third offence or more
- A minimum 120-day jail sentence, and
- A minimum driving prohibition of three years, eligible for Ignition Interlock Device after six months.
There are few exceptions to the minimum sentence rules but your chances of having the consequences of a conviction reduced are greatly improved with representation from an experienced DUI lawyer.
The longer-term effects of a conviction
The immediate penalties are only part of the wider picture. A conviction for driving at or over 0.08 is a criminal conviction like any other. This means that employers and landlords will have visibility of your arrest, charge and conviction via public background checks.
A criminal record may also impact your freedom of travel and, for non-Canadian citizens, your immigration status may be affected.
Defences for Driving At or Over 0.08
The crown generally attempts to prove a blood-alcohol level with a certificate of analysis. Securing a conviction relies upon this evidence, as well as the actions of the police officers during the stop, arrest and charge process.
Fortunately for many drivers who are stopped and charged with driving at or over 0.08 in Calgary, the BAC readings can frequently be called into question and the actions of law enforcement are sometimes unconstitutional or found to neglect proper procedure.
The DUI laws in Canada are very particular and unless the police followed the correct procedure to the letter, evidence can be called into question by an astute lawyer. Many cases are dismissed due to “technicalities”.
That’s why it’s important never to simply admit guilt in any drink-driving-related case. You will not get your license back any sooner by doing so.
Regardless of how overwhelming the evidence seems, hopeless cases are rare. There is often a valid defence that can save you from the potentially severe consequences.
Call Us To Arrange A Confidential Consultation
To speak with Cory Wilson or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Wilson Criminal Defence, call 403-978-6052 or email us here.
Impaired Driving/DUI FAQ
- What is impaired driving?
- What is ignition interlock?
- How long does a DUI stay on your record?
- Will I go to jail if I drive while impaired?
- How do I beat a DUI/Impaired driving charge?
Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer based in Calgary. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or are a suspect in a criminal investigation, call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.