Skip links
dui trial last

How Long Does DUI Trial Last?

Driving under the influence is a serious offense that can have life-altering consequences, including jail time and a criminal record. When charged with driving under the influence, you’ll no doubt have many questions running around your head.

Uncertainty about the duration of the legal process can add to the emotional stress, negatively impacting your well-being. Having an idea of the potential duration of the trial reduces uncertainties and allows for better preparation. With that in mind, let’s find out exact how long a DUI trial will last.

How Long Does a DUI Trial Last in Canada?

How long DUI trials last in Canada vary widely depending on several factors. A DUI trial can last for just one month after the first court appearance or as long as 18 months after the first court appearance. We appreciate that’s not perhaps the clarity you were looking for, so let’s look at those factors in more detail.

Factors affecting the potential duration of a DUI Trial

The potential duration of a DUI trial in Canada is affected by different factors, the main three being whether the case will go to trial, the complexity of the case, and the court schedule.

Whether the Case Will Go to Trial

DUI cases that are concluded without going for a full trial have relatively shorter timelines than those that go to a full trial.

A DUI case that does not go to trial can last from one to nine months (from the date of the first court appearance), while those that go to trial can last up to 18 months.

There are several ways a DUI case can be concluded without proceeding to full trial. These include:

  • The DUI criminal charges are dropped by the prosecuting officer
  • The DUI charge is dismissed by the provincial judge
  • You enter a guilty plea to the DUI as charged
  • You agree to plead guilty to amended lesser charges in exchange for a more lenient outcome (such a careless driving)

The efficiency of your impaired driving lawyer Ottawa can also affect the speed of the case. For example, a competent DUI lawyer Ottawa may help get your charges dropped or dismissed, significantly reducing the timeline of your case. To do this, it’s vital to ensure you get the right impaired driving lawyer for your case.

dui as charged

The Complexity of the Case

The nature and complexity of a DUI case influences how long it takes to resolve. Cases with multiple charges, contested evidence, or complex legal issues may take longer to adjudicate.

Legal issues that may make a DUI case drag longer than it should include contesting the accuracy of a breathalyzer/blood test result and the legality of the arrest. The gathering and presentation of evidence and the availability of witnesses can also extend the timeline of a DUI case. Complex cases with extensive evidence or numerous witnesses may require more time.

The Court Schedule

The availability of court time impacts the duration of DUI cases. Canadian courts with less busy schedules can hear DUI cases in under nine months, while cases take longer (12-18 months) in courts with busy schedules,

Factors affecting the availability of court time include:

Backlog of Cases – Generally, if courts have a high volume of cases in its system, it will take longer for a DUI case to move through the legal system because of the unavailability of dates for hearings and trials.

Jurisdiction – Courts in smaller jurisdictions tend to have fewer cases in its system, meaning dates are readily available for hearings and trials, allowing a DUI case to move through the system quicker. By contrast, courts in larger jurisdictions are generally busier with cases, affecting how quickly a case progresses.

Why is an 18 Month Timeline the Maximum for a DUI Trial?

DUI trials in Canada do not take more than 18 months because of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling known as the Jordan decision.

In the case, the Supreme Court overturned a provincial court’s ruling convicting an individual because of excessive delays before trial. The apex court ruled that the delays violated the individual’s rights as stated on section 11(b) of the charter of Rights and Freedoms regarding timely trial.

The Supreme Court then established a guideline of 18 months for cases in provincial courts to reach trial. This guideline ensures that all criminal cases (DUI inclusive) progress efficiently, else risk being dismissed for violation of the individual’s right to timely trial.

Why the Potential Duration of a DUI Trial Should Matter

Understanding the potential duration of a DUI trial has two main advantages:

Alleviating Emotional Strain – Going through a DUI trial can be emotionally taxing. The uncertainties associated with prolonged trials will only increase the emotional strain. Having an idea of how long the trial will take may help reduce the stress.

Planning for Legal Expenses – The longer a DUI trial takes, the more time your lawyers invest in it, and the more your legal costs add up. Having an idea of how long the case will take will help you prepare better for legal expenses.

dui trial should matter

Final Thoughts

The duration of a DUI trial in Canada can take anything from one month to 18 months after the first appearance in court. Different factors affect the duration of each case but getting a great Ottawa DUI lawyer can help speed up your case.

If you need more clarity about the timing of your DUI trial, then contact a criminal lawyer Ottawa today. Here at AGP LLP, we’ll be more than happy to help. Contact us today and we’ll guide you through your DUI trial and put your mind at ease.

Leave a comment