I Got A DUI. What Do I Do Now?

Getting stopped while driving under the influence can be a scary situation. Everyone makes mistakes, but making the mistake of driving under the influence can be more serious than most other driving charges. What happens if you get a DUI varies based on the situation. If you are found by police to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are a number of steps you should take to protect yourself.

Firstly, what constitutes Driving Under the Influence?

What, Exactly, is Driving Under The Influence?

Driving under the influence is more accurately described as being impaired by alcohol or drugs and operating or having the care or control of a vehicle.

The consequences can vary depending of different levels of intoxicating substance detected in the body. 

There is zero blood alcohol, where you have either consumed no alcohol or drugs, or the substances have completely left your system.

The amount of time it takes substances to completely leave your system varies greatly depending on the person, the substance, and the circumstances.

In Alberta, those with a GDL licence are only allowed to drive at an alcohol level of zero.

Blowing Over .05

The second important alcohol level is 0.05 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood. 

This is the level of legal driving for those with a full class 5 or higher licence in Alberta.

Drivers with a full licence can legally drive if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below 0.05.

Individuals with a class 5 license, who are shown to have a BAC of over 0.05, but under 0.08, can be charged with driving under the influence.

Blowing Over .08

The third alcohol ‘checkpoint’ is 0.08.

Anyone found to be driving with a BAC of above 0.08 can have their licence immediately suspended for 90 days, and it is either followed by a one-year ignition interlock program or an additional one-year suspension.

Those are the Province of Alberta penalties depending on blood alcohol concentration.  There can be similar penalties imposed by the Province for operating while “impaired”, or for refusing to provide a breath sample.

To learn more about the consequences and penalties of impaired driving in Alberta, check out The Truth About Impaired Driving Penalties in Alberta.

DUI laws have changed significantly in the last couple years due to a previous law being found unconstitutional.

Previously, your licence was generally suspended when criminal charges were being laid, and your licence would then be suspended indefinitely until your court case was over. 

The current system can include the sanctions listed above, as imposed directly by the Province, but also could include Criminal Charges, which are separate and not tied to the Provincial sanctions.

So, what should you do if you get a DUI and are found to be driving under the influence?

What To Do If You Get A DUI

1. Co-operate with Law Enforcement

The first answer is that generally it is better to cooperate with the peace officers.

The first answer is that generally it is better to cooperate with the peace officers.

Acting belligerent or disagreeable can sometimes be grounds for additional charges to be laid, or otherwise used against you.

An officer’s ability to suspend your licence immediately and often seize your vehicle on the scene is a preventative measure.

The same goes for enrolment in the ignition interlock program — the criminal charges are a means of protecting the public (and you) from dangerous situations.

However, if you act aggressive or contentious towards the officers, you can open yourself up to additional charges being laid on top of your licence being suspended, so cooperation is key.

2. Call a Lawyer

The second thing you should do is call a lawyer when the police read you your rights and ask you if you would like to contact counsel.

You will often be allowed to leave with certain documents: a promise to appear in court or an appearance notice.

Once you have these documents, it is important to then also call a lawyer to both talk you through the court process and ensure that everything works as well in your favour as possible.

3. Defend Yourself in Court

Once in court, the Crown Prosecutor will have to prove that you were driving under the influence.

Officers will testify as to their recollection of the investigation.

They may make statements, such as:

  • The defendant admitted to having consumed alcohol before operating the vehicle
  • Their speech was slurred or incoherent
  • Red, glassy eyes or dilated pupils
  • Odour of a substance coming from the driver’s mouth or vehicle (alcohol/marijuana) 
  • If the driver was observed driving erratically (swerving, speeding and slowing down randomly, hitting curbs, etc.)
  • Failing the Roadside Screening Test (Roadside breath testing)

The Crown can use witnesses and evidence (such as breath testing results) to try to prove you were driving under the influence.

Having a lawyer will not only help you prepare for this process, but also help you procure counter-evidence and witnesses that would contest a DUI charge. 

Most commonly, these charges are disputed by pointing out errors in the procedures followed by the police.

An experienced lawyer can not only guide you through this process, but help defend you in court.

If you have been charged with a DUI, calling a lawyer is your first layer of defence.

They will support you through the entire process and help you to understand every claim and charge made against you, and the possible consequences.

Have you received a DUI while driving in Alberta?

With the right legal advice, you could avoid the maximum fines and jail time.

Brian McGlashan has over 25+ years of experience in defending traffic violations and other criminal law offences in Edmonton and throughout Alberta.

If you’ve been charged with driving without insurance, contact Brian at McGlashan & Company immediately.