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advice on pleading guilty

Ottawa Impaired Driving Lawyers Advice on Pleading Guilty

The consequences of a DUI conviction in Ontario can be severe. So, when charged with a DUI, there seems to be only one reasonable thing to do: fight the DUI charge. By doing this, you give yourself a chance to get the charges dropped, the case dismissed, or negotiate more lenient penalties.

But is fighting the charge really a reasonable thing to do when charged with a DUI in Ottawa? What about just pleading guilty right away if you know you were over the limit? Here we’ll provide all your answers so that you can take your next steps with clarity.

Should I Plead Guilty to a DUI Charge Right Away?

The short answer is “No.” Never plead guilty to a DUI charge right away because that could mean throwing away a winnable case. What is more, you lose little to nothing by fighting the charge, and fighting may be less expensive than pleading guilty right away.

Let’s have a look at four key reasons why you should never plead guilty right away without first speaking to an impaired driving lawyer Ottawa.

1. The Case May Have Flaws That Can Make It Winnable

The reason some people plead guilty to a DUI charge is that they assume they can’t win. However, there are many reasons why an Ottawa DUI lawyer can get the charges dropped. If the case is really unwinnable, fighting on may not be reasonable. However, that is seldom the case.

There may be flaws in a DUI case that will not be obvious to your untrained eyes. The prosecution may be aware of these flaws, but they will not tell you of them. Instead, they’ll move on like they have an air-tight case against you.

However, a knowledgeable and experienced DUI lawyer Ottawa can easily spot flaws in your case and use them to build a good winnable defence. Simply put, what you may think is a lost cause could turn out to be an easily winnable case

For this reason, pleading guilty to a DUI case right away would be giving up on a good defence and throwing away the chance of winning and avoiding a DUI conviction. Let’s have a brief look at some of the reasons a DUI case can be fatally flawed:

Violation of your Charter Rights – There is a myriad of police actions that lawyers can use to prove a violation of charter rights and get a case dismissed. Some may be obvious to you (like failure to inform you of your right to counsel), but others may not be so obvious (like denying you the right to use the bathroom).

Unconstitutional Stop – The case can be thrown out if the officer did not have a good reason to stop your vehicle.

Mistakes By Officers – E.g., the police made mistakes in filling out required documents.

Issues With the Breathalyzer Test Result – If the breathalyzer test machine was not calibrated properly or the test was not properly administered, the case can be thrown out.

Witness Credibility Issues – If there are inconsistencies in witness testimonies, this can damage the prosecutions case.

2. You Lose Little to Nothing When You Go to Trial

The penalties for a DUI conviction are fairly the same whether you plead guilty right away or you are convicted after a trial. These are:

  • A permanent criminal record
  • Fine
  • License suspension
  • Jail time if a serial offender

Since the same severe penalties will apply whether you plead guilty right away or go to trial, it’s reasonable to go to trial. This will give yourself a chance to avoid conviction and the life-altering consequences that come with it. And thanks to Canadian law, your case is likely to be heard relatively quickly.

go to trial

3. Pleading Guilty Can Be More Expensive Than Fighting the DUI Charge

Fighting a DUI case and avoiding a conviction is more financially beneficial than pleading guilty right away. While fighting the case has the more immediate costs of legal representation, this is nothing compared to the fines and higher insurance premiums that accompany a DUI conviction.

Added to this, you also have the reputational damage and other consequences that can come from a DUI conviction. Having a DUI on your criminal record is not something anyone wants to have and you should make all efforts to avoid it.

4. Fighting the Case May Lead to Reduced Charges or Penalties

Pleading guilty means an automatic DUI conviction. But fighting the case may result in a more favorable outcome, even when your impaired driving lawyer cannot get the charges dropped completely.

When your lawyers see that the case against you is so strong that these best outcomes are not possible, they can negotiate a plea bargain for you, where you plead guilty to a lesser charge for more favorable penalties.

For example, instead of pleading guilty to a DUI and getting a criminal conviction, they may be able to negotiate a lesser charge, like reckless driving.

Are There Any Benefits of Pleading Guilty?

Under the ‘Reduced Suspension with Ignition Interlock’ program, someone who pleads guilty to a DUI may be able to start driving sooner than one year. However, this plea doesn’t need to be given immediately as you have up to 90 days from the date of the offence.

Due to this, you do not have to plead guilty to a DUI right away to have the benefit of reduced license suspension upon conviction. When charged with a DUI, you have enough time to consult a criminal  lawyer Ottawa to review your case and advise you on whether to plead guilty or fight the criminal charges.

benefits of pleading guilty

Final Thoughts

If you are charged with driving under the influence in Ottawa, do not plead guilty right away. The consequences of a DUI conviction are too severe for you to plead guilty without getting the advice from a lawyer.

They will review your case, as expose weaknesses that can get the charges dropped. If you need further advice or need legal representation for your DUI charge, then contact AGP LLP today and we’ll be more than happy to fight your corner.

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