Over 80 Blog

Offers of Pleas to Careless Driving Being Phased Out

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Generally speaking, there is little room for plea bargaining when you’re facing a charge of over 80 or impaired driving.  In most cases this means that you’re being offered nothing for foregoing your right to a trial and pleading guilty to an impaired driving or over 80 charge.  The law sets out mandatory minimum sentences and the Crown Offices generally have a strict policy against reducing impaired driving and over 80 charges in exchange for a guilty plea.  Therefore, in most cases whether you plead guilty early on or proceed to trial and then are found guilty, you end up with pretty much the same thing – a fine, a driving prohibition, and a criminal record.  That unavailability of a meaningful plea bargain is a large part of why so many impaired driving and over 80 charges proceed to trial.  Many of those people facing such charges feel they have little to lose by going to trial.  There has, until recently, been a small area in which there was room for a meaningful plea bargain.  This occurred typically in the case where a client was facing a charge of over 80, there was no accident involved in the allegations and the blood alcohol readings were alleged to have been low – say 90 or 100 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.  In such circumstances, many Crown Offices would be prepared to withdraw the criminal charge of over 80 in exchange for a plea to the Highway Traffic Act offence of careless driving.  This ‘deal’ often came as a huge relief to a client who could neither afford a criminal record or to lose her licence.  But this too is being phased out now that we have the Ignition Interlock Program inOntario.  Under this program, for many of the people facing a charge of over 80 or impaired driving, they will be eligible to get behind the wheel again within three months of pleading guilty, provided they plead guilty within 90 days of being charged with one of these offences (Of course, certain conditions apply.).  Many Crown offices are now focused on encouraging people facing drinking and driving charges to jump on board this program (known as Stream “A”).  This is the so called plea bargain now being offered.  Any chance of obtaining an offer for a plea to a careless driving charge is quickly fading.  Likely, such offers will be completely phased out of Ontario within a short period of time.

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