The short answer is, you can’t. Many factors go into whether it is a good idea for you to fight charges at trial or try to negotiate the best deal you can get before trial. Those factors, of course, stem from your individual case.
Some people charged with impaired driving choose to fight those charges and wind up going to trial, while others do not. Both decisions involve complex, fact-based reasons.
Whether Your Case Goes to Trial Often Depends on You
Many DUI defendants—and their lawyers—decide to fight the charges, even to the point of going to trial, based on strategic decisions. For instance, in Alberta, drunk driving cases take up about 40 percent of the courts’ trial time. The burdens that DUI cases place on the courts can actually work to a defendant’s advantage. Prosecutors may agree to a more favorable deal for a DUI defendant to avoid bogging down the court and taking time away from prosecuting more serious crimes.
Part of this incentive for deal making by prosecutors could lie in Canada’s legal system. Under Canada’s , every person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, anyone accused of a crime must be informed of what the offence is so that the accused knows what the Crown must prove to obtain a conviction. The trial must take place within a reasonable time, and the court must set reasonable bail. These requirements can impose burdens upon the court system that prosecutors can more easily deal with by reaching plea deals and avoiding trials.
Some provinces, such as Ontario, are seeing backlogs that make trials almost impossible. It takes an average of more than six months to prosecute a DUI case in Ontario. In the Toronto metropolitan area, the average time is nearly 11 months, involving eight court appearances. These backlogs can serve as an incentive for prosecutors to make plea deals rather than take cases to trial, simply to reduce the backlog.
Furthermore, the backlog contributes to an inefficiency of prosecution. For cases in Ontario, more than 20 percent of drunk driving cases are stayed or withdrawn before trial. The reasons vary from witness availability to evidence issues. But the fact is that many factors can make it less likely your DUI case will go to trial.
Coming DUI Law Changes in Alberta Make Trials Less LikelyRecent changes to DUI laws in Alberta, which take effect in July, make it less likely that impaired-driving cases will go to trial. Under the new law, police officers will have broad discretion to decide whether to charge first-time impaired-driving offenders with criminal offences. Instead, the officers may impose roadside administrative sanctions, such as towing, fines, and licence suspensions in lieu of criminal charges. The change in law intends, at least in part, to reduce the number of DUI cases that go to trial and tie up the court system.
If You Are Charged With Impaired Driving in the Calgary Area, Contact the Lawyers of Bourdon Defence
If you face charges of impaired driving and are wondering about the chances of your case going to trial, consult a lawyer to determine where you stand legally. You will need experienced guidance to determine how to proceed. The lawyers of Bourdon Defense regularly assist people accused of DUIs in the Calgary area in both plea agreements and trials. Reach us at (403) 474-4143 or through our website.