Being arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Ontario can jeopardize your driving privileges, finances, employment, and reputation. These charges should not be taken lightly. However, with an experienced criminal defence lawyer on your side, it is possible to beat drunk driving allegations. Here are key strategies to give you the best chance of avoiding a DUI conviction in Ontario.
Disputing the Grounds for the Traffic Stop
For a DUI arrest to be valid, the officer must have reasonable grounds to pull you over in the first place. Some common reasons include checking driver fitness, speeding, swerving, running a stop sign, or having a burnt-out headlight or taillight. If there were no lawful grounds to stop you, your lawyer can argue that the evidence gathered after the improper stop should be inadmissible as evidence in court.
Challenge the Field Sobriety Tests
Standard field sobriety tests like walking straight, following a pattern, or standing on one leg are relatively straightforward. However, many innocent factors like nerves, fatigue, or medical conditions can impact your performance on the tests. If the tests were not administered properly per official protocols, the results can also be questioned. Your lawyer may be able to get field sobriety test evidence excluded or discredited.
Dispute Breath Sample Readings
Breathalyzer testing is vulnerable to inaccuracies from improper use, equipment errors, or medical issues producing false high readings. Your lawyer can demand documentation on the device used and the technician’s credentials to find deficiencies in the test results.
Question the Timing of Testing
In drunk driving cases, timing is everything. The Crown must be able to prove that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over .08 within 2 hours of driving. If you consumed alcohol immediately prior to driving or the testing was significantly delayed, there may be reliability concerns with the tested BAC.
Cast Doubt with Expert Testimony
Your lawyer may bring in expert witnesses to challenge the Crown’s evidence. For example, a toxicologist can testify about absorption and dissipation rates of alcohol to prove your BAC was actually lower when driving based on when and how much you drank. Or an expert can critique improper administration of field sobriety or breath tests.
Highlight Mitigating Circumstances
While driving drunk is never advisable, your lawyer can put your actions in context to gain leniency on sentencing. While not a defence, highlighting mitigating factors can help reduce penalties if convicted or if a guilty plea is entered.
Negotiate a Plea Deal
If the evidence against you is solid, your lawyer may advise negotiating a plea deal rather than risking a trial. Pleading to a lesser impaired driving charge or a Highway Traffic Act offence could result in lighter sentencing, no criminal record, and reduced fines.
With an experienced criminal defence lawyer fighting for you, contesting the charges and evidence is always possible. Partnering with the right legal team at Graham Zoppi Criminal Law Firm gives you the strongest advantage when facing drunk driving allegations in Ontario. Visit RGZ Law or call (416) 873-6970 for a free consultation and case evaluation today.