If you’re arrested for DUI in Canada and your breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or more, you’ll be charged with committing a criminal offence. Refusing the breathalyzer test won’t help; without a reasonable excuse, that is also a violation of the Criminal code.
The repercussions of a criminal act vary by province, but they are always severe. Apart from the immediate consequences, which can include fines, jail time, suspension and an ignition interlock requirement, if you are convicted in court you will have a criminal record.
What Is a Criminal Record?
In strict terms, having a criminal record means your name, your offence, your fingerprints, and other details about you are recorded in an RCMP database.
What Are The Effects of a Criminal Record?
Having a DUI or other criminal offence on your record will make various areas of your life difficult.
- Employers regularly do a background check on job applicants, and it will take a very understanding employer to choose you over a competing applicant with no record. If you are applying for a job in banking, child care, a medical field, the courts, law enforcements, or schools, you can that expect that your record will be checked, and you’ll most likely be turned down.
- Landlords can refuse to rent to you. This kind of discrimination is perfectly legal.
- Auto insurance companies will invariably consider you a poor risk, and refuse to insure you, or charger higher rates.
Can I Erase My Criminal Record?
Offenders would obviously like their DUIs to “disappear” on their own after a few years of good behavior, but that is not the case. True, insurance companies will usually drop your rates back to non-DUI levels after three years, but your criminal record stays on the police database forever.
You can, however, get something called a record suspension. If you have not committed further offences, and meet eligibility requirements, you can have your record sealed so that it is not available to inquiries by employers. This cannot be done for at least five years after the offence.
A record suspension does not erase your DUI, but it helps you get your life back to normal. Job searches will become easier, and insurance more obtainable.
Of course, avoiding a DUI charge in the first place is the best way to keep life on an even keel. Using a designated driver, or taking public transport, avoids everything: crashes, injury, fines, jail, and the burden of a criminal record.