If you, unfortunately, get arrested for a DUI or Driving Under the Influence, you would definitely prefer avoiding conviction. DUI convictions generally lead to serious consequences such as fines, license suspension, and incarceration. This can affect your education, employment, or social status.
You might also wonder how long a DUI stays on your record or whether you can get the charges dropped or not. All of this depends on the circumstantial specifics of your case. Generally, DUI charges are not completely dismissed. However, there are measures you can take to work out a deal to minimize or eliminate some consequences of the charges.
Getting DUI Charges Dropped
Getting your DUI charges dropped would typically help with two things: avoiding conviction and avoiding severe consequences.
Consider the following if you get a DUI charge and wish to have it dropped:
Conditions to Satisfy
Following are the two reasons based on which DUI charges are usually dropped:
- The case is inappropriate to prosecute due to a major flaw pinpointed by the defendant’s lawyer.
- Provided the overall scenario of the case, the crown is willing to consider the provincial charges of careless driving instead of a criminal DUI.
Negotiating with the Prosecutor with a Plea
Most commonly, the defendant pleading guilty of careless driving can lead to a deal with the crown dropping the DUI charges. This is somewhat beneficial since careless driving is a provincial regulatory charge rather than a criminal offence. However, there are penalties for careless driving convictions too.
A criminal record and conviction can be avoided if you get charged with careless driving instead of a DUI. Cases with constitutional or legal flaws usually lead to this outcome. The individual charged with the offence might still have their driving license suspended for up to a year. There can still be exceptions allowing them to drive to and back from work.
On the other hand, there is no such driving ban exception for DUI convictions apart from ignition interlock program agreements in certain provinces.
Pleading guilty for the DUI charges can also help negotiate less severe penalties for a defendant. Prosecutors are also known to dismiss a DUI charge altogether based on the defendant pleading guilty and to negotiate. The evidence might prove to be insufficient. However, if the prosecution ends up deciding the evidence to be sufficient, it gets really difficult to convince or negotiate.
The probability of getting DUI charges dropped is higher for cases where the defendant has mitigating factors in their favour, including the following:
- Being a law-abiding, productive citizen
- Low BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) when measured
- Clean records (no prior criminal convictions including DUIs)
- The DUI was caused due to a prescription medication
If there are numerous mitigating factors present, a defendant may just get away with making a plea for charges of reckless driving rather than a DUI. However, it’s difficult to tell how a prosecutor will react to any circumstance and decide to drop the charge or go for a less severe charge.
Avoiding a Criminal Conviction Due to a DUI
Having a criminal conviction on record is usually a major, concerning, and uncomfortable issue for people with DUI charges. There are programs in many provinces, mostly for first offences allowing people charged with DUIs to maintain certain conditions as a means to avoid a criminal conviction. They are mostly known as “DUI Diversion Programs.”
However, these programs generally require the candidates to participate in alcohol and drug treatment, education, or periodic tests over a specified time. The court will eventually decide to dismiss DUI charges for the defendants who can successfully complete the program maintaining all conditions.
Why Would Prosecution Charge with Careless Driving Rather Than a DUI?
The prosecution would generally convict the accused with a DUI criminal record when it’s in the public interest. If it is not in the public interest, the prosecution may choose not to convict the accused with a DUI charge and go for a less severe charge instead. Following are some of the circumstances which would drive the prosecution towards a more lenient verdict:
- The accused has a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level close to or within the legal limit (0.09 to 0.11)
- The defendant/accused is supporting their family with their present employment status, and becoming convicted would cause them to lose their job
- There is evidence of other factors such as mechanical disruption in the vehicle along with the DUI charge
- There is doubt regarding the defendant’s level of impairment or the reason behind it after physical and psychological evaluation.
Having a criminal record can significantly limit potential in your life. The most sensible thing to do would be not being under any influence for the sake of your health, well-being, and safety of you and your surroundings.
However, if you do end up driving intoxicated under any circumstance, it’s important that you calmly figure out possibilities of you getting the charges dropped or reducing the penalties at the very least.
Hopefully, the above discussion has been clear, helpful, and informative enough to provide insights on managing such unpleasantries. Drive sober, drive safe.