Getting charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, also known as Impaired driving or driving while ability impaired, means that the police have discovered you were driving your vehicle while over the legal limit for how much alcohol you could consume and still safely operate a car, van or truck. In Canada, if you are charged and eventually convicted of a DUI offence, this counts as having a criminal record, and anyone that decides to obtain a background check will see this criminal conviction.
Of course, while it’s perfectly legal to hire someone with a criminal record, it’s not illegal to decide not to hire someone based on the presence of a record. In some cases, a criminal background check may even cause trouble if you attempt to travel to another country, such as the United States, where the Customs & Border Patrol have the legal authority to bar entry if they decide to do a background check and find a criminal conviction on your record.
Fortunately, a DUI conviction, while serious, does not have to be permanent. There are things that you can do about this. First, however, let’s go over the specifics of how the DUI charge works in Quebec.
In Quebec, the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC is 0.08g of alcohol for every deciliter of blood. If a police officer suspects a driver of being drunk, an instrument known as a “breathalyzer” is administered where the suspect breathes into the unit, which accurately measures the BAC level. If the level is 0.08 and above, the suspect can then be charged with DUI. If the BAC level is over 0.16, or an accident has resulted from the DUI, possibly involving injuries or even death, the charges may be more severe.
For drivers that are still learning, and on learners or probationary licenses, things are different. In this instance, there is a zero tolerance policy on alcohol, and so anyone driving with a BAC over 0.0 can be charged. Even if a driver has a BAC level lower than 0.08, if the police officer has determined that the driver is was exercising poor control, they can still be charged. However, Quebec is one of the few provinces in Canada where a BAC above 0.05, but lower than 0.08 can result in a DUI charge, but not necessarily a license suspension.
If you are convicted of a DUI in Quebec, a first offence will entail a license suspension for 90 days. If your BAC is over 0.16, there will also be a 30-day vehicle impoundment, as well as an alcohol and drug abuse risk assessment.
Any convictions for second, third or other multiple offence will involve stiffer penalties including a jail sentence starting at 30 days, and alcohol education programs the convicted will be responsible for paying for. There may also be additional fines and even the installation of an interlock device on the car, all of which must be paid for by the convicted.
Getting It Cleared
Because a DUI charge is a criminal conviction, that means that it can be “removed” by a process known as a record suspension, formerly known as a pardon. A record suspension takes all the details of a conviction, and removes them from the Canadian Police Information Centre database. This is the database that is accessed by any Canadian citizen or customs/immigration officer when running a background check. If nothing appears here, the record is considered “clean.”
However, in order to get a record suspension, certain conditions have to be met. The most important are that you have not had any other offences, and that five years have passed since your conviction—and its subsequent fine—was paid. If there is anything still outstanding with regards to your charge, you will need to settle this, and let five years elapse before getting a record suspension process can even start.
We Know What To Do
Getting a record suspension can take between one and two years, so you can start planning ahead for having your application processed. Pardons Canada knows what documents, requirements and timelines will be required in order to have a successful record suspension. If you want to get this done right, making sure all the proper protocols are observed quickly and efficiently, come to us. We can help.