If you have been charged with DUI in BC, the first thing to do is to remember not to panic. With good defense lawyers Surrey BC residents have a very good chance of a positive outcome in their legal proceedings. Yes, you are going to need a lawyer to help you. A charge of driving under the influence is a complex case, and you’ll need someone with a particular set of skills, knowledge and experience to help you navigate through the proceedings. Remember, the police have charged you with something quite serious, a charge that can have potentially life-altering consequences. To get the best outcome you can, enlisting the help of a lawyer should be at the top of your priority list.
It’s important to find a lawyer who understands intimately the nature of the charges against you and the relevant laws, systems, and protocols that are in place surrounding DUI charges. Time is of the essence in these cases, so you’ll need to find a good lawyer quickly after you are charged. In many cases, you won’t even need to meet in person with your defense lawyer to get the ball rolling. A phone call is usually enough to determine a plan of action for fighting the charges against you.
It’s also important to understand that there are two main types of DUIs in BC: Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRP) and impaired driving charges under the Criminal Code. In the case of an IRP, the entire proceeding takes place at the roadside when you are pulled over. The police officer will screen you for DUI and if you receive a reading of “Warn” you will have your vehicle immediately confiscated and impounded for a minimum of three days. If you fail the screening outright or refuse to take the test, you will receive a 90-day IRP (meaning you cannot drive for that time period) and your vehicle will be impounded for 30 days. In the case of an IRP you’ll have to pay a fine, a fee to have your license reinstated, towing and storage fees for your vehicle and potentially the cost of having to take a responsible driving course. You only have 7 days to dispute an IRP.
Criminal DUI charges such as impaired driving are criminal charges under the Criminal Code of Canada. Unless you have been issued a Promise to Appear or another document that requires you to appear in court in relation to the charges, you have not likely been charged with a criminal DUI. Criminal charges carry much harsher punishments than IRPs. In addition to a 90-day driving prohibition (which, in this case, usually takes effect 21 days after the incident) you must also attend court to defend yourself against criminal charges. If you are convicted, you’ll have a criminal record, you license will be suspended for the period of one year, you’ll have to pay a fine and you may have to have an interlock device installed on your car, requiring you to pass a breathalyzer test each time you attempt to start your vehicle.