MassTsang – A driving under the influence charge is a serious criminal offence in Canada. If you get charged and convicted, you will end up with a record. There are many reasons why otherwise lawful Canadians might want to avoid having a record. But if you do get convicted, is it legally possible to apply for a pardon and expunge of records?
Yes, You Can
The simple answer is yes, you can apply for a pardon for a DUI charge in Canada, according to Jeff Mass, (pictured) impaired driving lawyer in Toronto who specializes in such cases.
However, there are certain conditions that apply as you may already suspect.
First, you will have to wait for five years at least to have the record cleared. The terms and conditions varied depending on whether you are just charged, or charged and convicted. In both scenarios, you will end up with a record.
If you were charged but weren’t convicted in court, you can request to have your arrest records expunged as you didn’t commit a crime. This is a process you need to apply for and is not done automatically after your charge is cleared. That’s one good reason to have good criminal lawyers representing you to get your name cleared.
If you were actually convicted in court, the process is a bit more complicated. You can apply for a pardon five years after the fact, once you have completed the sentencing requirements.
Also, you will permanently have a record with a DUI conviction as it’s not possible to request the files to be expunged. However, you can apply for the files to be sealed, so they are not accessible via public records search systems.
A Pardon Won’t Get Your License Back
Keep in mind that a pardon for a DUI conviction doesn’t get your license back. You risk a license suspension for at least a year. You will also have to pay a fine, there’s no way out of it.
Your sentencing would depend on the severity of the impairment. That means, the higher your blood alcohol count was, the stricter the punishment would be. The same applies to other substances like marijuana, which is illegal to consume and drive.
As was pointed out in a recent Ontario case involving an aboriginal offender convicted of impaired driving, the trend for many years has been a constant ratcheting up of penalties and a reduction in available defences.
Pardon Depends on Your Existing Criminal History
If the DUI charge is your first offence, you may get a lenient sentence and your pardon would have a high chance of getting through. However, you may not be eligible for a pardon if you already have a record for related convictions, such as for traffic violations.
Non-criminal violations won’t be considered though. For example, if you were ticketed for speeding or parking in the wrong spot, these are non-criminal offences that won’t go on a record. So they won’t be considered in a pardoning application.
However, it’s important to avoid even minor violations during your eligibility period within the five years. If you rack up even minor traffic convictions during this period, it will be very difficult to convince the judge to let you off without a record or to seal your record. So drive carefully during the time frame that you apply for a pardon.
You can, of course, avoid all this trouble by not driving under the influence of any kind, quite obfiously. There are simple steps you can take to avoid a serious charge like DUI, such as calling a cab after you have drunk or smoked weed with friends. Remember, even a glass of wine could get you a DUI charge as long as your blood alcohol count meets the legal limits.