Driving Under Influence (DUI) Accidents

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    Home > Practice Areas > Driving Under Influence (DUI) Accidents

    DUI Accident Lawyer

    Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered a criminal offence in Canada. This is because it poses an enormous risk to not only the driver’s safety but also the safety of others around them, be that of other drivers, passengers in the car, or pedestrians. This careless act causes an estimated 63,000 injuries per year in accidents and more than a thousand deaths.1

    DUI Charge in Canada

    A DUI is referred to as an impaired charge in this country and carries significant legal consequences, including hefty fines and various sentences for imprisonment. 

    It is important to note that drunk driving accidents are always avoidable. Despite various transportation alternatives like public transit or taxis, collisions still occur. Often, an accident involving a drunk driver is almost always a life-changing event, causing irreparable damage that can extend for months, even years. At Bergeron Clifford, we are here to support you and your family if you are left to deal with the aftermath of an accident involving an impaired driver.

    Understanding the Legal Ramifications of Driving Impaired

    If a driver is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, the charges will vary depending on the amount and type of substance in their system and if this is a repeat offence. The official blood-alcohol limit in Ontario is 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), but there are still penalties for having lower concentrations when driving. Drivers with lower amounts of alcohol in their system may be given a field sobriety test to confirm their ability to drive responsibly. If a driver has a blood-alcohol concentration between 0.05 and 0.079 and doesn’t pass a sobriety test, they could still face severe penalties.

    Initial and Subsequent Penalties

    For a first conviction, drivers must pay a minimum fine of $1,000 and face up to 10 years in prison. A second conviction is more serious because it begins to establish a pattern. These drivers are displaying reckless and dangerous behaviour, even if they don’t exceed the legal blood-alcohol limit. This conviction carries similar fines as the first but also includes a minimum 30-day jail sentence. Upon a third or subsequent offence, a driver will face at least 120 days in prison, increased fines, and the likelihood of an extended sentence.

    Further Repercussions of DUI Accidents

    In addition to significant legal consequences, impaired drivers must also deal with the repercussions of the impact that their actions have caused. This negligent decision can permanently alter the lives of people beyond the driver. They may face an uphill battle with ongoing medical concerns, residual trauma, an inability to get behind the wheel again, or suffer the loss of a loved one. While the driver will have to face the legal consequence of what they have done in court, their sentencing may feel temporary to the families whose lives are forever changed by the damage they have caused. 

    Cannabis Use

    Ontario treats driving while under the influence of marijuana the same way as driving drunk. As cannabis use impairs people differently, there is no guidance on how much cannabis consumption affects driving safely. Drivers who are pulled over while assumed to be high are required to take field sobriety tests. Failure to demonstrate sobriety during these tests may result in a licence suspension and mandatory fees to get their driving permit back. 

    How Many DUIs Happen in Ontario?

    Statistics Canada states drunk driving rates have increased in the last several years in some provinces. But, based on 2019 data, Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba saw the fewest convictions. There are still 104 reported drunk driving cases per 100,000 people in Ontario. In many cases involving a DUI causing bodily injury, the victim is known to have higher medical bills and a longer recovery time.2


    If you are involved in an accident with an impaired driver, the recovery process will likely be difficult. Factors such as speed, seatbelt usage, and road conditions can all increase the risk of injuries and fatalities in these collisions.

    Our team of legal professionals understands the nature of impaired accidents can cause various kinds of bodily trauma. We’ve helped secure fair compensation for clients suffering from injuries, including broken bones to psychological issues. We also recognize the prevalence of spinal cord and brain injuries in these cases. As you seek the appropriate medical attention, we work with experts to interpret the ongoing care you may need and build our case around the support you require now, and in the future.

    All of these injuries can result in mounting medical bills that you may struggle to pay for if you cannot return to work. However, compensation is possible if you have been in an impaired car collision that left you with life-altering injuries. Our DUI accident lawyers can help. 

    Working with an Experienced DUI Accident Lawyer

    After enduring this kind of incident, your primary focus should be on healing and restoring your well-being. While challenging to do given the unique circumstances, adding stress by dealing with insurance companies is the last thing that you should be worried about. At Bergeron Clifford, we have a proven track record for dealing with cases like this.

    We’re Here to Help

    If you are unsure whether you would like to file a lawsuit and are simply considering getting a DUI accident lawyer, we are happy to have a discussion with you so that you can better understand your options. We want you to feel supported in your decision and believe that we can help make things easier. Please contact us to learn more about our areas of practice or to set up an appointment.

    A DUI Accident Case Explained by Kanon Clifford

    The year was 2020, and I was a fresh lawyer just out of law school.

    I went to meet with a new client who had been in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) and had sustained a catastrophic back injury. This left our client with mobility issues requiring a wheelchair.

    Knowing that she had been injured and seeing first-hand how badly, I was next set to find out what happened at the time she was injured and determine who was liable for her accident.

    As she sat down at a table with a warm cup of tea, she explained what had happened to her: It was a dark Friday night, and she was returning late from work. She was working late and was looking forward to getting home to her family. She was at an intersection, and the light changed from red to green. As she proceeded to slowly gain pace in her vehicle, almost from out of nowhere, a car came speeding through the intersection. Before she even had time to react, the other vehicle collided with her vehicle on her driver-side door. She blacked out and woke up in the hospital, slowly realizing her new reality. It was not until a day or two afterwards she found out from a police constable the driver who hit her had been driving under the influence (DUI) and was subsequently charged. One small action for the defendant meant a lifetime of suffering for our client.

    Sitting at that table, I realized just how much these injuries took a toll on our client. The injuries drained her. They changed her. They re-arranged her. She was now living her new normal.

    She had recently been released after a month-long stint at a rehabilitation hospital and was trying to relay the impact this accident had on her.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long do I have to file a personal injury claim after a DUI accident?

    In Ontario, the timeframe within which you can file a personal injury claim after a DUI accident is subject to a legal deadline known as the statute of limitations. You generally have two years from the date of the DUI accident to file a personal injury claim. This means that you must initiate legal proceedings within this timeframe to preserve your right to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.

    However, we want to emphasize the importance of seeking legal advice sooner rather than later. The aftermath of a DUI accident can be overwhelming, and we recommend reaching out to our team as soon as possible. By doing so, you can ensure that you fully understand your rights, the legal process, and the specific timeline applicable to your case.

    Will I have to go to court for my DUI accident injury claim?

    One common concern that often arises when pursuing a personal injury claim after a DUI accident is whether you’ll have to go to court. We understand that the thought of going to court can be intimidating, but we want to reassure you that our primary goal is to make this process as manageable and stress-free as possible.

    In many cases, personal injury claims stemming from DUI accidents are resolved through negotiations with insurance companies and the at-fault party. Our experienced legal team will work diligently to negotiate on your behalf, seeking a fair settlement that compensates you for your injuries, medical expenses, and other damages without the need for a court appearance.

    However, it’s important to acknowledge that every case is unique. If negotiations don’t lead to a fair resolution, rest assured that we are fully prepared to take your case to court to ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the fair compensation you deserve.

    What if I can't afford a personal injury lawyer?

    If you’re concerned about the costs associated with hiring a personal injury lawyer, please know that our team works on a contingency fee basis. This means that you won’t need to pay any upfront fees or out-of-pocket expenses. Instead, fees will be contingent on the outcome of your case. In other words, we will only get paid if we successfully secure fair compensation for you. This approach is designed to alleviate the financial burden on you during an already challenging time. Your well-being is our utmost priority, and we’re here to provide you with guidance and support.

    1. “Impaired Driving Statistics – MADD Parkland.” n.d. Maddchapters.ca. https://maddchapters.ca/parkland/about-us/impaired-driving-statistics/#:~:text=Canada.

    2. Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. 2021. “Impaired Driving in Canada, 2019.” www150.Statcan.gc.ca. July 15, 2021. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2021001/article/00012-eng.htm.

    Contact Bergeron | Clifford LLP

    Contact us if you have suffered a motor vehicle injury in Eastern Ontario. Call us at 866-384-5886 or fill out our online form. We can meet you in Kingston, Ottawa, Whitby, Carleton Place, Perth or wherever is most convenient for you.

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