Picture this: you’ve just been charged with impaired driving in Ontario, and you’re feeling the world’s weight on your shoulders.
But what if we told you that there’s a chance your DUI charges could be dropped or reduced? That’s right – impaired driving cases are far from “open and shut.”
In fact, there are plenty of ways that a skilled DUI lawyer can poke holes in the prosecutor’s case, leading to a more favourable outcome for you.
Can DUI Charges Be Dropped in Ontario? What Are the Reasons?
The short answer is yes, DUI charges can be dropped in Ontario, but it depends on the circumstances of each case.
Let’s explore some reasons for getting a DUI charge dropped in Ontario.
- Lack of Evidence: The charges may be dropped if insufficient evidence proves that the accused was impaired while driving. It could be due to issues with the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests or if the Crown cannot prove that the accused was driving at the time of the offence.
- Constitutional Issues: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, self-incrimination, and arbitrary detention. The DUI charges may be dropped if the accused’s rights were violated during the arrest or investigation process.
- Police Misconduct: If the police did something wrong while arresting or investigating, the charges may be dropped. Such actions can include violating the accused person’s rights, using too much force, or changing the evidence.
- Plea Bargaining: When facing a DUI charge, negotiating a plea deal could be one of your options. The Crown may offer to drop the DUI charges if you plead guilty to a less severe offence like careless driving. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than a criminal conviction and comes with fewer penalties.
- Technical Issues: DUI cases can be highly technical and rely on precise measurements and procedures. If there are issues with the equipment used in testing or the testing procedures were not followed correctly, the charges may be dropped.
Important: Even if you cannot get the charges completely dropped, an experienced DUI lawyer can still help minimize the impaired driving penalties and consequences of a conviction. They can negotiate plea deals, present evidence in court, or argue violations of your Charter rights.
A DUI conviction can have severe and long-lasting consequences, such as fines, licence suspension, DUI jail time and a criminal record (that stays with you forever). Hiring a skilled lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
How Often Are DUI Charges Dropped in Ontario?
It isn’t easy to give an exact figure as it varies from case to case.
Yet, it is not uncommon for DUI charges to be dropped or reduced to a less serious offence in Ontario.
According to the statistics, the possibility of winning a DUI case in Ontario is up to 60% (charges dropped or stayed). However, the strength of the evidence, the lawyer’s experience, and the Crown Attorney’s discretion all play a crucial role.
A proficient DUI lawyer can identify flaws in the Crown’s case and negotiate a plea deal or get the charges dropped.
How to Get DUI Charges Dropped in Ontario: Strategies
As mentioned, with the proper legal representation and approach, it’s possible to have your DUI charges reduced or even dropped.
Here’s what you need to consider when fighting a DUI in Ontario:
I. Importance of Legal Representation:
Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer is crucial to successfully challenging your charges. A DUI lawyer can assess the evidence against you, identify flaws in the prosecution’s case, and develop a strategy to reduce or drop your charges.
II. What to Expect During the Court Process:
The court process for DUI charges in Ontario can be lengthy and complex. After your arrest, you must attend a hearing to determine whether you will be released on bail.
If you are released, you must attend a series of court appearances, including pre-trial conferences and possibly a trial. Throughout this process, your lawyer can negotiate with the Crown Attorney and work to get the charges against you dropped.
III. Strategies for Getting DUI Charges Dropped:
There are several strategies that a DUI lawyer may use to get your DUI charges dropped in Ontario, including:
1. Challenging the constitutionality of the DUI laws
This strategy challenges the DUI laws’ constitutionality, arguing that they violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
For example, one could argue that the mandatory minimum sentences for DUI offences are cruel and unusual punishment or that the requirement to provide a breath sample violates the right to privacy. A successful constitutional challenge could result in the dropped charges or the law amendment.
2. Identifying errors or inconsistencies in police reports or testimony
This strategy involves scrutinizing the police report and witness statements for errors or inconsistencies.
For example, if the police officer’s report describes the driver as having slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, but the video footage shows the driver speaking clearly and without difficulty. It could be used to challenge the officer’s credibility and the validity of their testimony.
3. Questioning the reliability of breathalyzer test results
Breathalyzer test results are often used as evidence in DUI cases but can be unreliable in certain circumstances.
For example, the test results could be inaccurate if the test administrator made a mistake or the equipment was not calibrated correctly. A DUI defence lawyer could challenge the reliability of the breathalyzer test results by bringing in expert witnesses or conducting independent testing.
4. Negotiating a plea bargain
Consider plea bargaining to minimize the penalties in DUI cases. Negotiating with the Crown prosecutor could lead to a lesser charge, like careless driving, in return for dropping the DUI charges.
This strategy is particularly beneficial if the evidence is against the defendant and the risk of being convicted of DUI is high.
5. Gathering character references
Character references can be used to demonstrate that the defendant is a responsible, law-abiding citizen who made a mistake. They can be provided by employers, family members, friends, and others who know the defendant well.
By providing character references, the defendant can demonstrate to the Crown prosecutor that they do not pose a risk to society and are not likely to repeat the offence, potentially leading to a plea bargain or the dropping of charges.
6. Pointing out inconsistencies in witness statements
Inconsistencies in witness statements can include contradictions in describing events, timelines, or details of the alleged DUI incident.
For example, one witness may describe the driver as swerving and driving erratically, while another says the driver was driving normally. The DUI defence lawyer can use these inconsistencies to argue that there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Although we have outlined several effective strategies for dismissing DUI charges in Ontario, it is important to note that an experienced DUI lawyer can employ numerous other techniques depending on the case’s specifics.
At X-COPS, we understand how overwhelming and stressful a DUI charge can be, and we’re here to help. Our team of expert criminal defence lawyers has the experience necessary to defend you against DUI charges in Ontario.
We’re dedicated to delivering the best results for our clients, starting with a free consultation where we’ll assess your case and provide an honest evaluation of your options.
If you choose to work with us, we’ll create a personalized DUI defense strategy and fight for your rights. Don’t wait to get started – contact us today to schedule your free consultation. In DUI cases, timing is critical.