Martin Draver* Driving under the influence amounts to one of the most common forms of criminal charges in Canada, similar to many U.S. states. With the legalization of marijuana in the country, DWI charges now include drivers who have smoked weed in addition to those who are just drunk. Solicitors who specialise in criminal law or simply traffic issues may get plenty of DWI clients.
Most clients seek DUI legal help wanting to know how they can beat their criminal convictions. When the client is desperate, it’s easy for some unscrupulous attorneys to lead them on with false promises. In some cases, though, the attorney might simply miscalculate the client’s expectations. Here are several tips for properly advising DWI clients in Canada from experienced solicitors:
Don’t Mix Up Marijuana and Alcohol Influence Charges
While most clients are well aware of DWI charges related to alcohol, most are still confused about similar charges related to marijuana. Both charges incur similar penalties. But there’s a major difference between the two: the testing method.
The laws are strong when it comes to alcohol impairment. The police is also equipped with well tested breathalysers to analyze blood alcohol content in a client. However, the testing is not as established when it comes to marijuana. There is not weed breathalyser that traffic cops can use. Currently, the police relies on blood tests, which can be shown as a roadblock to convictions.
The marijuana impairment laws currently charge only those who smoke within a certain time limit. A talented and well informed team of Toronto DUI lawyers can challenge marijuana influence charges under the problems with the testing method and this time limit. As most people are unaware of what this entails, their answers during police stops may be problematic, making way for a solid defence.
It’s important to let clients know about the testing process to better understand how they went through it. So question clients closely about what they told the police when charged with marijuana impairment. Let them know there’s still hope for beating these charges.
Do Explain All the Penalties Related to Charges Clearly
It’s very important that clients understand the severity of DWI charges fully. Some come in thinking an under influence charge is the same as a traffic ticket. They should know that driving under the influence is a criminal charge that results in the criminal record.
Attorneys should explain to clients that there are mandatory sentencing requirements that clients can’t get out of if convicted. For example, their license will be suspended and they will have to pay a fine. There might be other consequences too, such as higher auto insurance. To avoid confusion, be clear about the penalties from the start.
Offer Pardon Options
Don’t overlook to mention pardoning options to clients, especially if it’s their first charge. Clients who are convicted can apply for a pardon to have their records sealed. Even those with no convictions can still apply to have their records expunged, which many would no doubt desire. Before the trial, explain the pardon pathway so that clients have some assurance even if the trial doesn’t go as intended.
Lastly, but importantly, attorneys shouldn’t be afraid to tell their clients that their cases can’t be won if that’s the case. It’s mostly the case because of the strict laws in place to tackle drunk driving. For these clients, let them know a pardon is possible as mentioned above. While attorneys should meet client expectations, it’s also important to be straight from the start and not unrealistically raise a client’s hope.