Are you wondering what percentage of DUI cases are dismissed before trial? Driving under influence is a serious offence that can result in nightmarish consequences. Every good lawyer in Canada knows how tough these cases can get, but they also know how many DUI cases are dismissed. Here’s a surprising insight into the official statistics.
So How Many DUI Cases are Dismissed?
Here’s a short and simple answer: more than 55% of DUI cases in Canada get dismissed and result in other decisions.
That’s not a generic “your chances are 50-50”, that’s official StatCan data on DUI charges from 2019-2020 years (the latest available by date).
Of more than 66,000 cases, only 45% — or a little over 30,000 — resulted in charges, fines, breathalyzers installed, and stamps on driving licenses. Over 35 thousand cases in one year were withdrawn, acquitted, or just stayed.
What Even Qualifies as a DUI Case
In short, DUI — aka Driving Under Influence — means driving after taking either alcohol or drugs. Yes, Cannabis — despite all the eased regulations in Canada — is included.
You don’t automatically get charged with DUI if you get behind the wheel drunk. Surprisingly, the majority of cases are not even involving seriously drunk drivers. The situation, most of the time, looks like this:
You get some drinks. It could be wine or whiskey, whatever alcohol you prefer. OR you smoke a joint to fight off stress;
You’re a law-abiding, conscious person, so you don’t go anywhere in your car immediately. You wait for some time. However, the time is not enough;
When you decide that you’re sober enough and go somewhere in your car, you get pulled over. Keep in mind that the policy does NOT need a reason to stop you at a sobriety checkpoint;
Percentage of DUI Cases That Go To Trial
The officer asks you to blow in a tiny black tube (the special device), you calmly do it, and oh, no — it shows that the concentration of alcohol or other substances in your blood is still higher than the legal limit;
That’s why you’re asked to leave your car, follow the orders, go to court, and basically — that’s why you’re a supposed impaired driver.
The other huge portion of cases involves drivers that get into accidents and happen to be drunk or high at the moment. DUI is not about people who literally drink behind the wheel — it’s about people that drive after drinking.
A little advice: ask for a lawyer as soon as you can, but do it calmly. Asking for a lawyer does NOT make you look guilty.
Only around 2% of DUI cases actually go all the way to trial.
What Are The Chances of Winning a DUI Case?
Do the official statistics say that you can relax, get a beer, and head to a freeway? No, it’s definitely not.
First of all, 45% is a high “guilty” percentage. It’s not a free ride and you shouldn’t take DUI charges lightly;
Second — a large percentage of cases just stayed, meaning they may — or may not — result in harsh consequences for those accused of impaired driving, the court just decided to do it later;
And finally, the third — and most important detail: YOUR chances of winning a DUI case in Canada are not defined by the statistics. The details will define the decision, not the general stats.
The decision in one exact separate case is 100% defined by the circumstances. Several dozens — if not more — of various aspects can affect your chances.
How to Win a DUI Case?
While there’s no universal instruction — here’s a little guide. Note that we’re not telling you to do these things, but if you could — it would maximize your chances. Or, at least, make the punishment as easy and gracious as possible under the current Canadian laws:
Step 1: Be as young as possible
The less driving experience you have — the better. It’s not a panacea, but young drivers are often seen as less of a threat, so (with all other aspects equalized) you’ll probably have less damaging consequences than an experienced driver would get.
Step 2: Keep your BAC level low
BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration and that’s exactly what the officer will check with a breathalyzer. To keep it simple, the lower BAC you have — the less drunk you are, and therefore — the less of a threat you possess to the public.
Step 3: Be a first-time offender
Keep in mind that DUI laws are so strict in Canada not because of the lawmaker’s dream of your fines. DUI laws are aimed at people with addiction to alcohol or drugs that can’t control themselves. Without a DUI lawyer in Toronto by your side, the outcome could be worse than necessary.
As a first offender, you’ll get way milder punishment than a person that has already been caught driving under influence in the past (which is clearly a sign that even a risk of losing driving privileges is not enough to stop them from drinking behind the wheel.
Step 4: Be drunk OR high, not both
Obviously, we recommend driving completely sober, and not even approaching your car if you’re drunk or high. However, the law suggests that being both drunk AND under the influence of drugs is way worse than just being drunk or just being high.
Step 5: Keep it peaceful
It’s an obvious one, but still worthy of mentioning. A person that calmly followed all the police orders and a person that tried to fight, run, or refused to get tested will get completely different punishments — even if they both have, say, 0,09 BAC.
Don’t make the situation worse than it is if you get caught driving under influence and contact a good lawyer as soon as possible. It will increase your chances significantly.
To sum it up, the perfect circumstances for winning a DUI case (or, at least, lowering the severity of the punishment) are:
- Young age;
- First-time offender;
- Low BAC;
- No resisting and calmness;
- Only one forbidden substance in your blood.
Of course, you can’t affect ANY of these things in retrospect, but you can find a professional lawyer who will focus on winning your case, not dragging their billable hours.
It’s a DUI case, not felony charges — you’ll go to jail only if you kill or severely injure others because of driving under influence. And also — if the person that gets hit by a drunk driver follows all the right steps. In the vast majority of other cases, the worst thing you get is a huge fine and an ignition interlock device installed in your car.
Percentage of DUI Cases Dismissed Conclusion
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many DUI cases are dismissed. All that matters is whether you can get YOUR case dismissed, or not. And the official statistics clearly show — more than enough DUI cases are dismissed each year for you to have all the chances to win yours as well. It all depends on your -actions, the exact circumstances, and a bit of luck.
We hope you found this guide on the percentage of DUI cases that get dismissed helpful. If you need a criminal lawyer, use our “find a lawyer” web app.