Everyone makes mistakes, but occasionally, those mistakes can be severe enough that the police have to get involved, and the Canadian legal system has to administer some punishment in answer to what you’ve done. Drunk driving is one of those situations. Over the years, this has become an increasingly more serious, less tolerated legal offense, and the reasons for this are clear. DUI, or driving under the influence, as it is formally known, is both very easy to do, and incredibly damaging to everyone involved when an accident occurs. It’s for this reason that a person charged with DUI—and then convicted—is actually guilty of a criminal act, albeit not the most serious one. If this happens to you, how does it affect your criminal record?
What Is DUI In Canada?
First, let’s look at the DUI or impaired driving charge itself. In Canada, if a police officer sees poor driving from a citizen on the road, they have the legal grounds to stop that driver and evaluate them. If, after assessing the driver, the officer has reasonable suspicion the person is driving impaired, they can conduct a physical coordination test, a breathalyzer test, or both.
If the person should fail these tests, they will be charged with DUI. If the person should refuse to take the tests, they can be charged with “refusal,” or “refusal to blow,” which more or less amounts to a DUI charge. If a person is unable to provide a proper breathalyzer sample—as may be the case in a serious accident with injured victims—a blood test can be administered by a doctor at the request of the police. In Canada, a DUI charge occurs when a person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or more. This means that there is 80 mg of blood for every 100 ml of blood in your body.
When this happens, you are charged and convicted of DUI, you are charged a minimum of $1000 for the first offense, and are prohibited from driving for one year. Repeat offenses rise quickly in severity. This now brings us to the big question, how does this affect your criminal record?
It’s All on File
A DUI charge in Canada is considered a criminal offense. This means that should someone apply for a job and a background check is run with the Canadian Police Information Centre, (CPIC) a result will come up on the record, showing a DUI conviction. Of course, what a potential employer decides to do at that point is a matter of their own internal preferences and policies. However, the hard truth is a DUI charge will show up on a criminal background check in Canada. This also applies to international situations, such as immigration officers at the border of the United States, should they decide to run a check.
It’s also important to note that even if you are not convicted of a DUI offense, being charged with it will still remain in the police system. This means that a police officer stopping you on the road can check your record and see the DUI charge still in the system even without an actual conviction.
What to Do
A DUI conviction does not have to remain on your record permanently. A Record Suspension can eventually be requested for those that wish to have the conviction sealed from public records. There is, however, an issue of timing on when you can get a Record Suspension in Canada.
For those with a DUI conviction they wish to suspend, it is only possible to apply and receive this suspension five years after the conviction has been settled. This means that whenever it was that you paid the fine to the police for your conviction (assuming it was a first-time offense), that is when the clock starts counting down. There are also processing fees that need to be paid to seal the record of the conviction.
While it is obviously preferable to never get into this position in the first place, mistakes do happen. That doesn’t mean, however, that the people who made these mistakes should carry the mark their whole lives. Given five years, no repeat offenses and a willingness to pay the price, these convictions can be removed from a record. Otherwise, they remain there forever.