Care or Control

This is one of the most difficult offences for the average person to understand.

Care or control charges usually do not involve any actual allegation of impaired driving. Simply being found in, or sometimes even around, a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can result in charges. If the police find you in the driver's seat of a motor vehicle, regardless of the reason, they will charge you if you are either impaired or over the legal limit.

The Law

The usual care or control charge arises when a person is in the driver's seat of a motor vehicle and is either impaired or over the legal limit.

If found in the drivers seat the presumption is that the person intends to drive the vehicle and a court can find you guilty of an offence.

Defending a person from this charge is similar to fighting an impaired driving or over 80 charge. The main difference is that an accused can testify that they did not intend to drive when they occupied the driver's seat. This involves detailing the plan on getting home, and whether the driver's seat was occupied to drive or for another reason (such as sleeping, or simply getting something from the car).

A person can be charged even if they are not in the driver's seat, but it is rare. It is a difficult charge for the prosecution to prove. The approach to defending the charge is the same.

Since a care or control charge will likely involve you testifying, preserving your memory at this point is important. Write down all the details you can remember of your evening to help with your recollection if your matter proceeds to trial.

What It Means For You

A charge will result in an immediate licence suspension. An appeal of this suspension is restricted to 30 days.

A conviction means a minimum punishment of a $1000 fine and a 1 year driving suspension. Prior convictions will increase the punishment, and usually involve a jail sentence.

Other potential consequences include:

  • loss of employment, restriction on future employment;
  • restriction on the ability to travel;
  • increased insurance premiums;
  • required interlock participation;
  • mandatory driver education programs;
  • longer provincial licence suspensions;
  • Criminal Record;

The consequences for a charge or conviction go beyond what happens in court. Make sure you understand all consequences and are in a position to make an informed decision on how to proceed.

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