The laws related to driving while impaired in any area of Ontario are complex. Many people are not sure what impaired driving is or what rights they have under provincial laws. Educating yourself will make it easier to understand what is happening if a police officer approaches you. While you will have many questions, these four are good places to start.
What is Impaired Driving?
Under current laws, impaired driving is defined as having the care and control of a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The drugs do not have to be illegal substances. If you are taking prescription medication that slows your reflexes and limits your ability to properly operate a vehicle, a police officer has grounds for charging you with those offences.
Do I Have to Be Driving?
The laws related to impaired driving do not require that the car be in motion in order for the charge to apply. That goes back to the clauses related to the care and control of the vehicle. This means if you are seated behind the wheel and the engine is running, you could be charged. Having the keys in the ignition but the engine not running would still pave the way for the officer to charge you. The rationale is that as long as you are in possession of the vehicle, you are the party who is responsible for the operation. In your present state, you pose a threat to other motorists and will be charged.
Should I Refuse the Roadside Breathalyzer Test?
There are some who would recommend that you refuse to take the roadside breathalyzer test. Remember that making that decision would lead to what is known as an offence of refusal or the refusal to blow. The provisions for those charges are found in the criminal code 254(5), and the fines and penalties are similar to those related to driving under the influence. Generally, it's a good idea to be as cooperative as possible. Refusing the test is a good way to be taken in for further questioning at once.
How Quickly Should I Seek Legal Counsel?
All people who are facing charges of this nature should contact impaired driving lawyers Toronto as quickly as possible. If it can be done before you are escorted to the nearest police station, do so. You can also place a call to your legal counsel once you arrive at the station. Having a lawyer at hand during the questioning is in your best interests.
Remember that a charge of impaired driving, either alone or with other charges, will have serious consequences. You face the loss of your licence, damage to your credit score, and difficulty obtaining auto insurance in the future. Never attempt to defend yourself, even if your blood alcohol content was over the legal limit. The support offered by a lawyer will make it easier to know what to expect and how to build a reasonable defence under the circumstances.