It could happen to you. What should you do if you’re driving on an Ontario road when the lights flash?
Don’t refuse the breath test. It’s an offence under the Criminal Code to refuse one. And the officer’s request isn’t arbitrary, either. If he or she is asking you to use the breathalyzer, it’s because they found cause to do it, whether because of your speech, the smell of alcohol on your breath, or driving, or something you let slip in conversation.
If you do refuse it, the consequences are the same as if you blew an .08.
Know what you’re facing. As a first DUI in Ontario, you’re facing a licence suspension of one to three years, a fine of at least $1,000, and mandatory participation in Back on Track, an alcohol assessment and counseling program. Back on Track can take up to 11 months to complete, and if you fail to complete it, the result is further suspension of your licence.
Know how to plead. If you are planning to plead guilty, you can install an ignition interlock immediately as evidence that you intend to abide by the law and stay sober. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
Your lawyer might advise you to go to court. If you win you could be off the hook. If you lose, however, you’ll be facing 6 months’ licence suspension and 12 months with the interlock.
Know the aftermath. You’re probably hoping that after the fines, the court appearance, the suspension, counseling and treatment, that your life would get back to normal. Alas, there’s more to it than that. Since driving while impaired is a violation of the Criminal Code, you’ll have a criminal record, which means that certain doors are closed to you. Certain careers, such as law enforcement, banking, and many more, will be barred to you. Prospective employers will usually do a background check, in which case the record will weigh against you. It will be much more difficult for you to be bonded if you require it for your business.
In addition to employment woes, there is a financial cost. Your vehicle insurance rates will go up after a DUI in Ontario.
Know the answer. Forewarned is forewarned. Instead of boning up on what to do after you’re arrested for drunk driving, make sure it doesn’t happen. Stay sober behind the wheel – always. Then a police stop won’t turn into something that will haunt you for years.