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Care & Control Charges: A No-Nonsense Guide

Have you or a loved one been charged with impaired driving in Ontario? If so, it is likely they will be deemed responsible for operating the vehicle. Known legally as Care and Control, this responsibility can have a significantly negative impact on your ability to build a defence. In this post, What The Law examines what impact Care and Control can have in determining an impaired driving offence.

What is a Care & Control in Canada?

Care and Control is the legal term used for the person responsible in an incident involving impaired driving.

Impaired driving refers to an individual being intoxicated or compromised by alcohol and drugs, as a result they are not capable to drive or operate a vehicle at a normal awareness level. Even if the driver does not cause any actual damage while in a vehicle, driving in an impaired state still poses significant risk to Canadians and many cases have resulted in property damage, car crashes and civilian deaths. For this reason, impaired driving is treated seriously under Canadian law.

When it comes to Care and Control, this signifies that the accused was responsible in operating the vehicle. In many cases, the accused was deliberately attempting to drive a vehicle while being intoxicated.

Examples of Care & Control Charges

While seemingly straightforward, the person with Care and Control can depend on the circumstances of the offence. This can be particularly important if the owner is a passenger, the driver could not stop a vehicle, or if the driver was underage or under adult supervision.

Under Canada’s Criminal Code, the person in the driver’s seat is presumed to be in care and control of a motor vehicle, even if they had no intention of driving it. If they are intoxicated or impaired in any way, it is presumed they are responsible for any offence.

However, this is merely a presumption. If there was a specific reason for sitting in the driver’s seat that signalled no intention of operating the vehicle, a criminal defence lawyer could build a stronger line of defence in the accused’s case. Examples might include:

  • Needing to activate vehicle heating or cooling systems
  • No other seat being available
  • Needing to listen to the radio or to use a GPS system

If high-quality evidence can be found to demonstrate no intention of driving, a defence lawyer may be able to present this to the courts.

Penalties for Care & Control Charges

Being linked to Impaired Driving Charges, any charges related to care and control share the same penalties.

In accordance with Canada’s Criminal Code, those convicted in court will face an immediate licence suspension lasting around one year. It is also possible they will receive a hefty fine or possibly even a jail sentence. Those convicted in court might have to attend mandatory training and driver’s education sessions on safe practices.

If this is a repeated offence within 10 years of the original, a licence suspension can be extended. In the event of 3 or more convictions, the individual will receive a lifetime suspension from driving motor vehicles.

Even after suspension, the driver may be required to use an ignition interlock device in Ontario. This device is a breathalyzer attached to the vehicle that will only allow the driver to operate the vehicle if they have no alcohol in their blood.

Charged with a Care & Control Charge in Toronto or the Surrounding GTA?

If you have been charged with impaired driving, or feel you were unjustly deemed in care and control of a vehicle, having a criminal lawyer by your side can make all the difference. Based across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, our team of professional criminal defence lawyers are experienced in handling even the most difficult of impaired driving charges. With flat fees, no hidden charges and 24/7 availability, we are dedicated to helping you and your loved ones receive the best defence possible. Contact us today by calling or texting 647-295-6499. Remember, facing this charge alone is a very dangerous risk.

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