There is a low percentage of people that go through their entire lives without making a mistake. But the scale of a mistake has a huge amount of variance in terms of cost and consequences. Forgetting to pick up bread on the way home is a relatively minor error, easily forgiven. Deciding to drive while being drunk, however, can’t be overlooked, and if anyone that is caught by the police, tested and confirmed to be driving while over the legal limit for alcohol can be charged criminally.
In fact, having a DUI charge, also known as drunk driving, Impaired Driving, Driving with over 80 miligrams, Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle, is something that can actually go on your permanent record, and is even considered a criminal offence in the eyes of Canadian law. So, even though it’s not robbing a bank, or stealing from the company funds, what kind of consequences—if any—does having a DUI on your record create?
Two Grades Of Severity
The first thing to keep in mind is that not all DUI convictions are alike. Even though a DUI conviction is broadly classified as a criminal offence, there are levels of seriousness to this that can further divide the weight of such a conviction. A summary conviction is the lesser of the offences, and in line with the American legal equivalent, a misdemeanour. An indictment on the other hand, is a serious criminal offence, and is the equivalent of the American felony.
Usually, people who have been charged and convicted of a DUI where it is a first offence, and there is no additional damage or injury involved will be charged with a summary conviction. However, if a DUI incident is more serious, such as a collision and injury—or even death—involved, then the charge is likely to escalate. If this is not the first time that a DUI charge is being filed, then repeat offences also tend to be given more legal weight.
The immediate aftermath of a DUI conviction is, at the absolute minimum, a fine and a suspension of the driver’s license. The fine can be no lower than $1000, and the suspension a minimum of one year. However, if a DUI is more severe in consequences, so is the punishment and jail sentences may be involved.
Minimum jail terms are 30 days, while the maximum can be years if the DUI involves injury or death. Provinces like Manitoba can involve a minimum five-year jail sentence for injury/death related DUIs, while a life sentence may be handed out for a third offence involving injury/death.
Beyond the immediate criminal impact, there are the lifelong effects to consider. Because a DUI is a criminal offence, it will come up in background checks. People who travel to the USA frequently can be turned away at either customs at the airport, or at the border if they arrive by car should a background check be conducted. Even job prospects can be affected as background checks conducted by employers can influence their decision to hire someone.
If you have a DUI on your record, however, you can do something about it. If enough time has passed, with no additional convictions, you may qualify for a record suspension also known as a pardon. A record suspension “purges” your conviction off the public record, but it has certain requirements before an application can be approved. Contact us for more information if you’re interested restoring your record to a pristine state.