Are you under the following mistaken beliefs?
Myth # 1- Even if I am convicted, I won't get a criminal record. Drunk driving is simply a traffic offence.
If you are convicted of impaired driving or a related charge you will have a criminal record that may affect your ability to secure a job or travel internationally.
You will keep that criminal record until you are granted a pardon. These days, you will not be eligible to apply for a pardon for 3 to 5 years. After that, the process to get a pardon can take more than 2 years.
These are serious charges.
Myth # 2 Why bother hiring a lawyer? There are no possible defences.
Many people share this mistaken belief. The police and lobby groups want you to have that impression. As a result, accused people often do not hire a lawyer to provide them with a proper defence. Instead, they plead guilty in situations even though the evidence against them is flimsy, non-existent, or was illegally obtained.
Do yourself a favour.
DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY TO AN “IMPAIRED" OR “OVER 80" CHARGE WITHOUT CONSULTING WITH AN EXPERIENCED LAWYER. That lawyer will review the evidence against you and give you an opinion on your options and advise you about the possible outcomes at a trial or on a plea.
Myth # 3 Any lawyer can represent someone charged with impaired driving or driving over 80.
That is like saying a skin doctor can perform open heart surgery. Impaired cases are specialized. There are a number of technical defences and the case law is always changing. If you are charged with one of these defences, you need a lawyer who is experienced and up-to-date in this specific areas of the law.
Myth # 4 If a law firm advertises that they defend drunk driving cases, they will take my case to trial.
Surprising, but wrong!
If you check the Yellow Pages you will see lots of ads for lawyers who claim to defend these charges. However, the fact is that not every firm is prepared to take your case as far as you need it to go to win.
If they cannot negotiate a favourable resolution for your case, they will simply “plead you out".
Make sure you ask the lawyers you are interviewing whether they will take your case to trial, if necessary. Ask the lawyers when they last did an impaired driving case. If it was not within the last few months. . . keep looking.
Richard Auger defends clients in Ontario who have been charged with criminal offences. He is the co-author with Brenda Hollingsworth of “Fighting Impaired Driving Charges in Ontario", a book available free of charge at http://www.ottawalawfirm.ca, by email at email@example.com or by phoning 613.233.4529.