DUI charges are typically dealt with by entering a guilty plea or by having a trial (fighting the charges). If the accused person pleads guilty, they will receive a sentence and get a criminal record. If the accused person decides to proceed to trial, the may be acquitted (beat the charges), be convicted (found guilty of the charges) or sometimes receive an offer to plead to non-criminal offence mid-trial.

Deciding whether to plead guilty or fight the charges is the most important decision an accused person can make. Any discussion or decision about pleading guilty versus fighting the charges must involve a detailed understanding of the offender’s personal circumstance and situation, the strength of the case against them and what they are likely looking at in terms of sentence on a plea or after trial. While the decision to plead guilty or go to trial is entirely up to the accused person,the lawyer and the accused person should have a detailed discussion as to the pros and cons of doing so.

Sometimes the best option to deal with a DUI charge requires taking the matter to trial. This means that the Crown Attorney (prosecutor) will be required to call evidence to prove all of the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The Crown typically relies upon evidence in the form of police witnesses, civilian witnesses, documents and experts like a toxicologist.

The lawyer for the accused person (defence) will get an opportunity to challenge the Crown’s witnesses and evidence through cross-examination. The defence may also decide to call its own witnesses, file documents as evidence or call an expert. While the decision about whether the accused person should testify is ultimately up to the accused, the lawyer and the accused person should have a detailed discussion as to the pros and cons of doing so.

The defence may also bring something called a Charter application. This is where the accused person’s lawyer will argue that the police breached the accused person’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They will then argue that the evidence obtained by the police (e.g. breath test results, statements, observations, etc.) should be excluded. Most DUI trials typically require a Charter application.

After the Crown has called their evidence and the defence gets an opportunity to decide if they wish to call any evidence, the lawyers get to make submissions. This means that both the Crown and the defence will make argument to the Judge who heard all of the evidence. The Judge will then give their decision. They will either find the accused person guilty or, hopefully, they will acquit that person depending on the evidence and arguments made.

If the accused person is found guilty, the Judge will then hear sentencing submissions from both Crown and the defence. The Judge will then sentence the accused person. For first time offenders, this is typically a fine starting at $1000 (plus the 30% Victim Fine Surcharge) and a one year driving prohibition. If it is not their first DUI conviction, there is a risk that they will be sentenced to a jail term and a driving prohibition.

If the Judge finds the accused person NOT GUILTY, that individual gets to walk out of the Courtroom with no criminal record or sentence.

The content on this web site is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this web site are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting Branden Miller or another lawyer regarding any specific legal issues.