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How to get DUI, Refusal, and Over 80 charges dropped

DUI charges are often dropped for two main reasons:

  1. The defendant's lawyer has pinpointed a major flaw in the Crown's case which making it inappropriate to prosecute

  2. The Crown is agreeable to bargain for a plea to a provincial careless driving charge instead of a criminal DUI (given the overall facts of the case)

The most common deal agreed to in DUI cases is for the Crown to drop the DUI charges in exchange for a guilty plea to careless driving. While a careless driving conviction does come with penalties, it is not a criminal offense but a provincial regulatory charge (similar to a speeding ticket).

Being convicted of dangerous driving allows the individual to avoid a criminal record and conviction. This arrangement is commonly agreed to in cases where they are possible legal or constitutional flaws with the case (or where the reading is low/close to the legal limit). Often the individual will be forbidden from driving for a year (similar to a DUI conviction), but there can be exceptions to this to allow the person to drive to work. For a criminal DUI conviction there is no similar driving ban exception except for agreements in certain provinces for ignition interlock programs.

Crown Attorney's normally won't drop charges right away

Unless a case is seriously flawed, most Crown Attorneys will not offer a careless driving option right away. It often involves pleading not guilty and awaiting a trial date. In provinces that offer ignition interlock options, which involve admitting responsibility, there are time limitations that expire relatively soon after the charge is laid. This means deciding whether to pursue a trial or attempt to bargain for a dangerous driving option will mean giving up the option of getting back behind the wheel through the ignition interlock program. This is why is it so important to have a lawyer assess your case immediately to advise you of whether your case is one that is a good candidate for a not guilty plea.

Why does the Crown sometimes agree to careless driving and drop the DUI charges?

There are different reasons as to why Crown Attorneys sometimes offer defendants a dangerous driving option. In cases where the reading is close to the legal limit (BAC .09 – BAC .11) they may legitimately doubt the accuracy of the blood alcohol test. Sometimes in the these cases, a defendant’s lawyer is able to convince the Crown that it is simply not in the public interest to prosecute criminally. The accused’s life circumstances can also play a role in case withdrawal decisions. If the defendant has a job and is supporting his family, saddling him with a criminal record and possible employment loss is not in the public interest.

Ultimately, Crowns are tasked with prosecuting DUI cases when it is in the public interest to do so. If there are doubts about the accused’s level of impairment it is not appropriate to prosecute in many cases.

High BAC reading cases

In cases where the accused is obviously impaired there may be other reasons that a Crown would agree to drop the charges. In DUI cases, often police error or a violation of the accused’s Charter rights to a substantial agree is enough to convince them to agree to careless driving in cases where the reading is very high.


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