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DUI in Alberta: Crucial Questions and Answers

Searching for a good DUI lawyer in Alberta commonly involves many important questions and considerations, and it can be difficult to find a clear and concise answer to legal enquiries. In this short guide, we aim to answer the most frequently asked questions about this process, providing you with a snapshot of how it functions and how you can maximize your chances if you’ve found yourself with a DUI charge.

Am I going to jail?

If it’s a no-injury DUI charge, then it’s highly unlikely that you will go to jail on your first conviction. On the other hand, if your impaired driving led to bodily harm or death, then there’s a very high likelihood of you experiencing a jail term of some sort.

Can I hire any lawyer?

DUI law is perhaps one of the most complicated areas of criminal law, given the number of loopholes that can potentially affect the outcome. Acquiring the skills to become a good impaired driving defence lawyer takes years of training and a wealth of experience. You may find a general lawyer who charges dirt-cheap fees, but it is always worth asking yourself - is it worth the risk? Would you be willing to go to jail and/or pay a hefty penalty? There’s no denying the fact that paying slightly more at the outset can make an important difference when it comes to the outcome.

What’s the difference between impaired driving and “over 80”?

An Impaired Driving charge is essentially an allegation that you drove your vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while a charge of “Over 80” alleges that your Blood Alcohol Concentration was over 80 mg/100ml of blood at the time of driving. This means that you went over the legal alcohol limit, and strongly suggests that you are guilty of driving under the influence.

Can I refuse submitting myself to a breath test?

It is officially within your rights to refuse a breath test, but this isn’t necessarily a good idea; refusal penalties are the same as Impaired Driving penalties, and could greatly harm your case depending on your individual situation. This question remains as a grey area, as refusing to provide samples may be good or bad depending on your specific circumstances. Given this uncertainty, refusing a sample should be done so very carefully.

What are the penalties?

Whether you’re convicted of Impaired Driving, Over 80 or Refusal, you stand to face the following penalties on your first conviction:

  • A criminal record (which stays for 10 years).
  • A minimum fine of $1000
  • One year driving prohibition (both provincial and federal)
  • 3 months driving suspension
  • Higher cost of car insurance
  • Travel issues
  • Possible loss of job

You may be able to drive after 3 months, as long as you install an Interlock device in your vehicle.

Will I still be allowed to drive before my trial?

If you have been charged, your license will be suspended for 3 months. You won’t be able to drive within this period, and you’ll need to re-apply before you will be issued a replacement driver’s licence. Driving during this 3-month suspension could land you in jail if caught, and any damages that arise as a consequence of having an accident while driving without a licence won’t be covered by insurance. Although it’s possible to appeal the licence suspension within 30 days, most get denied.

Should I plead guilty right away?

Most DUI cases have hope for a positive advancement, and so we generally don’t advise clients to plead guilty from the start. A guilty plea is a significant commitment, and immediately classifies you within a bracket of harsher judgment. Before deciding whether to plead guilty, your case should be evaluated by an impaired driving defence lawyer. Only after carefully establishing all of the details should you decide on your course of action, with your lawyer’s tailored advice by your side.

While there can be a lot of uncertainty surrounding legal matters and their interpretation, the most important thing to consider is the fact that professional legal representation can go a long way with helping you navigate your DUI charge. With knowledge and experience to provide you with a clear outlook and progress with your case, it is often worth the cost of a proficient lawyer to minimize the potential consequences. By leaving nothing to chance, you can proceed in the full knowledge that you’re taking every possible step to emerge from this situation in a positive way, and preserve your future prospects.


 

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