A conviction for driving under the influence can bring severe consequences. Although the state classifies first and second DUI offenses as misdemeanors, the court can still impose hefty penalties. You may face anything from huge fines to a lengthy suspension of your driving privileges. In addition, a conviction will result in a stain on your criminal record that can negatively affect your ability to gain future employment. Because of the far-reaching consequences of a drinking and driving conviction, it is vital that you consult with an experienced Ontario DUI lawyer.

Our attorneys at The Law Offices of Scott Henry have years of experience helping clients reduce or dismiss their DUI charges. We will examine your specific case and build the strongest defense strategy that you need.

What are the Penalties for Drunk Driving in Ontario?

While a first-time DUI conviction alone can bring harsh penalties, the more offenses you have, the harsher the consequences. Our local attorneys could review your DUI case and determine what consequences you may be facing and help you minimize their effects.

First DUI Offense

Considered a misdemeanor, a first DUI offense can carry these penalties:

  • Up to a six-month prison sentence;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for one year or longer;
  • Required alcohol abuse counseling;
  • Required installation of an ignition interlock in your vehicle; and
  • Thousands of dollars in fees and fines.

Second Drunk Driving Offense

Though still considered a misdemeanor, a second drinking and driving offense can carry harsher penalties, such as:

  • Up to a one-year prison sentence;
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years, plus two years of a restricted license after that;
  • Up to 30 months of mandatory alcohol abuse counseling;
  • Required installation of an ignition interlock in your vehicle; and
  • Even more fines and fees worth thousands of dollars.

Third DUI Offense

A third drunk driving offense is considered a felony and carries the harshest penalties yet, such as:

  • Jail sentence of one year or longer;
  • Driver’s license revocation for as much as four years;
  • Total repossession of your car;
  • Required alcohol abuse counseling for 30 months;
  • Tens of thousands of dollars in fees and fines; and
  • Subjection to a very strict probationary period that could land you back in jail if violated.

In addition to the above immediate penalties, a conviction for DUI can also result in long-term consequences. For instance, because these convictions last on your record for ten years, you will face inflated car insurance premiums and decreased credit. You may also have a tougher time gaining stable employment.

The DUI Court Process

After you are arrested and booked at the police station, you will have to participate in a chemical blood-alcohol test. Also, you will need to relinquish your driver’s license and attain a temporary one instead.

Before you even speak to the police, ask to contact your lawyer. Having an effective Ontario lawyer by your side could help prevent you from saying anything that may damage your DUI case. Your lawyer can also help guide you throughout the entire court process. After relinquishing your driver’s license, you must request an administrative hearing at the DMV within ten days. With your experienced lawyer, you can meet that deadline and challenge the revocation.

You will first meet the prosecutor and judge at your arraignment hearing. Here you will also plead guilty or not guilty. Your attorney could arrange pre-trial negotiations before your trial even starts. During these negotiations, your lawyer will attempt to secure a plea bargain that reduces the drinking and driving penalties you may face. If the plea bargain terms are fair and agreeable, then you will avoid needing to go to trial.

However, if your lawyer cannot negotiate a fair plea bargain, then your case will go to trial. Using their knowledge, your lawyer could employ a defense strategy that challenges the evidence against you. For example, your lawyer can challenge the accuracy of chemical tests and field sobriety tests. In addition, an attorney can even call to question the credibility of the arresting officer. A conviction for DUI or obtaining a plea bargain will both result in a sentencing hearing that you must attend. During this hearing, the court will ultimately decide your penalties. While the court is deciding, your lawyer can try to reduce those penalties that you may face.

DUI Expungement

A conviction for driving under the influence may remain on your record for ten full years. However, you can try to clear, or expunge, your conviction in certain circumstances. While this is often a complicated and unpredictable process, a knowledgeable lawyer in Ontario can advise you as to whether you are eligible to remove your DUI conviction from your record.

Can You Avoid Paying Increased Auto Insurance Rates?

With the help of your lawyer, you may avoid paying increased auto insurance rates by avoiding the submission of an SR-22 form, which basically certifies your financial responsibility.

Speak with an Ontario DUI Attorney

Hiring a seasoned Ontario DUI lawyer can allow you to effectively reduce or dismiss the charges that you may face. Your lawyer can also guide you through the entire DUI process in order to meet important deadlines. With our extensive knowledge of the court system in California, our experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Scott Henry is ready to protect your rights. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.

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