DUI Laws are Changing

Impaired Driving

Impaired Driving

Driving while impaired due to the ingestion of alcohol or drugs can incur a number of offenses under Canadian law. New, reformed driving laws will be in effect in December and the biggest and most controversial changes are making headlines. Recreational marijuana will become legal in October of this year and has prompted police and lawmakers to increase their ability to test and charge impaired drivers under the influence of marijuana. If you’ve been charged with DUI or related offenses, call (587) 410-2500 to speak to one of our lawyers.

Alcohol, Drugs, and Accidents

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, have compiled statistics about driving impaired. Alcohol and/or drugs are involved in an average of three Canadian car crash fatalities every day. Of the 2,297 deaths due to road crash in 2014, 1,273 included an individual that tested positive for drugs or alcohol. That’s over 55%.

Your risk of a fatal accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs, is greatly elevated. We recommend you do not get behind the wheel of any vehicle if you have been drinking or using any kind of drugs.

Police Detection of Impaired Drivers

Starting December 2018, reformed DUI laws will go into effect. Some of these reflect new procedures for detection of alcohol and/or drug use. The controversy that surrounds these laws is ongoing, but Bill C-46 is moving forward.

The most problematic change is that police will no longer need reasonable suspicion to test drivers for alcohol use. If any driver refuses to take the sobriety test, they will face criminal charges with penalties similar to impaired driving convictions. Detractors state that this practice is a violation of civil liberties with unreasonable searches as well as the potential for racial profiling.

In addition, Canadian police officers are currently undergoing training for screening for drug use, particularly for THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Officers cannot use random testing as they can for alcohol; they must have reasonable suspicion before requiring a driver to take the test. However, if you are pulled over and alcohol is ruled out as a source of impairment, THC testing can be administered.

BAC (blood alcohol levels) have been set for quite some time, and a similar set of THC levels will be applied to impairment with marijuana use. The problem lies within the science. There isn’t a definite level of THC that is proven to cause impairment. The government has proposed levels, but even small amounts of cannabis used just before driving could land a driver within this range. Until the science improves, the government will be taking a zero tolerance approach.

The new law also eliminates the use of the “bolus drinking defense” in which a driver can claim that they drank just prior to driving and the alcohol was not fully absorbed into their system so they were not over the limit when driving. This will no longer be applicable as the law states that it is illegal to be over the alcohol limit within two hours of driving.

New Penalties for DUI

Beginning December 18, 2018, alcohol-impaired driving that does not cause bodily harm will incur mandatory penalties that range from $1000 for a first offense to a minimum of 120 days in prison for a third offense. Penalties are based on BAC levels and the number of previous offenses, or the refusal to be tested.

Drug-impaired driving with 2 nanograms (ng) but less than 5ng of THC per milliliter of blood will earn a maximum $100 fine. Note that hybrid charges, 5ng or more of THC with detectable levels of LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, ketamine, PCP, cocaine, methamphetamine, 6-mam, or 5mg/L of GHB will range from $1000 fine to a minimum of 120 days in prison. THC and alcohol will incur similar penalties.

Maximum penalties for Impaired driving causing bodily harm will range from two years less a day to 10 years in prison. Impaired driving causing death carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

THC Testing

If there is a suspicion of DUI, police can pull you over for roadside testing. A breathalyzer test, to rule out alcohol impairment will be administered. After a pulse check, you will be asked to perform the eye test, one-leg stand, and walk and turn. In December, police will be able to administer saliva tests to detect THC.

Based on the roadside test results, police may take you into the station for further testing including: blood pressure, temperature, divided attention tests, pupil examination, and more. The process will take approximately one hour to complete.

Is the High Worth the Risk?

We hope you answer “no” to that question. The risk of fatal accidents while driving under the influence should be reason enough to limit consumption or arrange for a ride when using alcohol or marijuana. If the loss of life isn’t enough, the law reform and stiffer penalties, along with the ability for police to conduct random alcohol testing, should prompt you to think twice before getting behind the wheel.

Please do not drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If, for some reason, you are charged with DUI, call Verhaeghe Law Office right away.

Understanding Drug Offenses In Canada and How a Drug Crime Attorney Can Help

Understanding Drug Offenses In Canada and How a Drug Crime Attorney Can Help

Drug Crime Attorney

The Role of Drug Crime Attorney in Drug Offenses

Have you been arrested for a drug charge? Understanding drug offences in Canada without a drug crime attorney can be difficult. Click here to learn more.

If you or someone you care about are facing drug charges in Canada, you may be unsure about what to do next.

The aftermath of a drug arrest is undoubtedly scary and confusing. A drug crime attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process and give you the best chances for a positive outcome.

When faced with potential legal issues in Canada, it's important to understand the basic laws, how the country deals with drug convictions and the importance of working with a drug crime attorney. Read on to learn more.

Possession of Illegal Drugs

Under the Canadian government's Controlled Drug and Substances Act, it's illegal to have prohibited drugs in your possession at any time. This applies even if the drugs do not belong to you.

For a conviction of possession, the prosecutor must prove that the illegal drug was on your body or in a location that you control. This includes your home and your car. He or she must also prove that you knew the substance in question was an illegal drug.

Prosecution

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you may be brought up on a summary conviction offense or a far more serious indictable offense. In cases involving first-time arrests and/or small quantities of drugs, a summary conviction is more likely.

Potential Penalties for Drug Possession

The potential penalties for drug possession vary depending on the type of offense. Other influencing factors include:

  • Type of drug
  • Quantity in your possession
  • Whether violence has occurred
  • Your past criminal record
  • Personal circumstances (age, mental health etc.)

Canadian laws establish minimum and maximum penalties. These can include court-ordered drug treatment programs, fines, and imprisonment.

With so many variables surrounding your potential conviction, it's easy to see why you need a qualified drug crime attorney who clearly understands the laws.

Possible Defenses for Possession Charges

The most common legal defenses to drug possession charges are improper police procedure and illegal search and seizure. Here's what you need to know.

Vehicle Searches

If you've been pulled over while driving your vehicle, police can look in your windows and can use a flashlight in the dark.

They cannot, however, search your car unless they have reasonable cause to believe there are drugs, alcohol, or evidence of a crime inside. They must also have cause to believe the contents would be removed or tampered with if there was a delay while a warrant was served.

Personal Searches

In most cases, police cannot search your person in the absence of an arrest or consent to the search. However, if you are in a location where a drug search is occurring and the police have reason to believe you are in possession of drugs, a legal search is possible.

If you believe a search is happening illegally, tell the police that you object and consult with a drug crime attorney at your earliest opportunity.

Home Searches

In most cases, police are not allowed to search your home without your permission or a search warrant. If a warrant has been issued, the serving police must identify themselves and show you a copy of the warrant. While searching your home, they are not allowed to intentionally damage your property or use excessive force.

Serious Drug Offenses

Canadian law sets forth mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug crimes committed with an aggravating factor. This includes:

  • Trafficking
  • Possession with intent to traffic
  • Production
  • Importing or exporting
  • Possession with intent to import or export

Aggravating factors include an association with organized crime, intent to exploit children, the use of violence or weapons and previous drug convictions.

Definition of Drug Trafficking

The definition of trafficking is partaking or offering to partake in any of the following actions in reference to illegal drugs:

  • Selling
  • Administering
  • Giving
  • Transferring
  • Transporting
  • Sending
  • Delivering

It's important to note that an offer to sell is sufficient for conviction. There is no need to prove that the defendant actually had drugs on him at the time of the offer.

Trafficking charges may also apply to defendants in possession of a lot of drugs, money, and packaging.

Potential Penalties for Serious Drug Crimes

A conviction for trafficking or other serious drug crimes can bring serious consequences. Depending on the drugs involved and circumstances surrounding the conviction, penalties can range from a few thousand dollars and six months in jail, up to a lifetime imprisonment.

Border Crossing

Both the United States and Canada have strict policies regarding crossing the border following a criminal conviction. The United States denies entry to those convicted of controlled substance violations. This can be as minor as simple possession of THC or even paraphernalia with a small amount of residue.

In some cases, you can apply for a waiver. However, this is often a time-consuming, complicated, and expensive process.

Marijuana Legalization

Canada is slated to legalize recreational marijuana on or before July 1, 2018. Each province will be responsible for setting its own rules regarding minimum legal age to purchase, where it can be legally smoked, and so on. Police are also warning that a crack-down on the black market is necessary for legalization to be effective.

Until the laws are passed, marijuana remains an illegal schedule II drug. Those living in or visiting Canada should keep a close eye on the upcoming law changes. Always err on the side of caution until there is greater clarity.

Consult with a Verhaeghe Law Office Drug Crime Attorney Today

If you've had the misfortune of an arrest for a drug-related crime, your next steps can impact the rest of your life. Don't make the mistake of trying to handle your own criminal defense. At Verhaeghe Law Office, we use all methods at our disposal to fight for the best verdict possible.

We charge our clients on a flat-rate basis so it's easy to understand your costs up-front. You can be confident that there will be no hidden charges or unpleasant surprises when working with our firm. Contact us today for a consultation to learn how we can help.