If you, or someone you know, gets pulled over by the police, one of the first thoughts you may have is, “did I commit a crime?”. While it may be true you have broken a law, that doesn’t mean you have committed a criminal offence.
Impaired driving and dangerous driving are criminal offences listed under the Criminal Code of Canada. Failure to stop at a stop sign or speeding are considered traffic violations under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario. It’s important to understand what a police officer is charging you with, and in what situations you may need a criminal defence lawyer.
While it’s possible you may wish to fight the charge for a traffic violation, you don’t need a criminal lawyer to do so. A criminal defence lawyer is only necessary for criminal charges, for example, drunk driving, drug-impaired driving, or driving dangerous causing bodily harm or death.
However, if a police officer stops you for a traffic violation, its possible that you may also be charged with a criminal offence. If you disobeyed a traffic rule, but are found to be intoxicated, you can be charged with both the traffic offence and the criminal charge.
A criminal charge can carry a sentence that includes fines and driving suspensions, but also jail time, depending on the severity or repetition of the offence. A criminal defence lawyer will assist you with your efforts to have the charges dropped.
Paying a fine does not erase the conviction of the criminal charge. It’s crucial that you speak to a criminal defence lawyer if you have been charged with impaired or dangerous driving to discuss what your options are and how to best proceed with your defence.