The Consequences Of An Impaired Driving Conviction And How Legal Advice Can Help

There are many consequences of an impaired driving offense and several ways in which we assist people who have been charged.

One thing to keep in mind is that the instruments that the police use to test blood alcohol level, like any other machine, are subject to failure periodically. So simply because the machine gave a number does not mean that that is the end of the story, because the number might be wrong. Often we are able to employ independent alcohol experts who work for the defense. We try to duplicate the circumstance of the day in question and, using our own breath testing instruments, we can run tests, compare the numbers, and see whether there is a possibility that the police instrument may have been in error. This is an area that, surprisingly enough, has not been very well studied. There are not a lot of statistics available on the accuracy of the breath testing instruments employed by the police but we do know that like any other instrument, they are periodically subject to failure. So that may be an issue in the trial of the case.

In addition, in terms of the law, impaired driving is a very technical type of offense. The police are required to do certain things in a certain order within a certain time frame. Certain documents are required and they have to be filled out correctly. Any part of the process that is done incorrectly may provide a defense to the person charged with that crime. So part of my function is to analyze what the police have done and see whether they have done it correctly. If they have not, then the person may very well have a good defense.

Why is it so important to see a lawyer? Nobody wants to be convicted of something if he does not have to be, especially if you have never run into any trouble with the law before. If convicted, of course, you would have a criminal record which can cause a number of problems. There are many professions and trades for which having a criminal record is an absolute bar to continuing in that career. A criminal record can cause problems for travel to certain jurisdictions. It can cause problems for people who want to be bonded for security purposes. In addition, there is the matter of paying the fine or, if you already have a record, going to jail. Then, of course, there is the driving prohibition. For most people, not being allowed to drive is at the very least a big inconvenience, and for many people it could mean the loss of their employment. There are lots of people who have to be able to drive in order to do the job they do. Firefighters for example, paramedics, truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, all sorts of different people rely on the ability to drive legally in order to pursue their employment. So being able to drive is an issue that makes it well worthwhile to hire a lawyer to review the case and see whether it can in fact be beaten.

The other consequence that people sometimes fail to consider is the effect on their insurance rates. Everybody has to have insurance in order to own and operate a motor vehicle in Canada. If you are convicted of impaired driving there will be a very steep increase in your insurance rates. It varies by province, but in Alberta, people may see their insurance premiums increase by anywhere from 300 to 500%. For example, if you are paying $1000 a year for your car insurance and get convicted of impaired driving, you will be off the road for 6 months or a year. When you get your license back and go to insure your car, you are now paying $5,000 a year for your car insurance instead of $1000. For many people, that is the most significant financial consequence of an impaired driving conviction.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Edmonton, Alberta Region, contact Moreau & Company for a consultation.

This information is taken from an interview from December 6, 2007 with Paul Moreau LL.B., Criminal Lawyer with Moreau & Company,Edmonton Criminal Lawyers. The article is provided as an information service only and should not be used as legal advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction so please consult with an appropriate legal professional if you are looking for help with a specific situation.