In a world where social events often revolve around alcohol and infrastructure is built around cars, it shouldn’t be surprising that impaired driving is an issue.
But though we tend to think of impaired driving as being a fairly straightforward crime, in many provinces and states it is more nuanced than you might immediately think. Here are four common misconceptions about impaired driving charges, and how they can get you into trouble — or out of it.
1. You Can Be Charged Even When Not Technically Driving
It happens every year — someone drives to a party, has a little too much to drink, and then realizes on the way home they’re not safe to drive. They pull over to the side of the road to sleep it off, but leave the car running to stay warm. The police stop by, administer a breathalyzer, and charge them with a DUI.
In many provinces and states, simply being behind the wheel of a running car when over the legal limit can be considered impaired driving.
2. Drug Use Can Lead to Impaired Driving Charges
In common parlance, “drunk driving” or “DUI” are often used as synonyms for “impaired driving,” but in most jurisdictions the law applies to all drug use that can affect one’s ability to drive.
In places where cannabis has been legalized for medical or recreational use, police services can charge you with impaired driving if you fail a drug driving test — but prescription and over the counter medicine can also lead to impaired driving charges, so make sure to check the side effects before taking drugs and getting behind the wheel.
3. Impaired Driving Can Lead to a Criminal Record
Most people think of impaired driving as simply being a misdemeanor offense akin to other traffic violations. And while it is often treated that way by the courts, in many jurisdictions it can also be prosecuted as a felony or indictable offense depending on the circumstances.
This means that a DUI can end up on your criminal record and have serious repercussions for your ability to travel, vote, or get a job.
4. Impaired Driving Charges Can Be Fought in Court
If you have been pulled over and failed multiple breathalyzer tests, an impaired driving charge is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you need to plead guilty.
Like any other charge, impaired driving can be fought in court, which is one of the reasons criminal defense lawyers like jeffreismanlaw.ca specialize in representing defendants who have been charged with impaired driving but who believe these charges are unfair.
Though the impaired driving rate is dropping steadily in many developed countries, it is still one of the most common offenses, and people who are caught driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are often repeat offenders.
Making sure you understand the regulations in your province or state is the best way to guarantee you stay on the right side of the law, and don’t end up in a position where you have to hire a criminal defense lawyer to fight an impaired driving charge in court.