Is a Dui a Felony in Canada?

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It is one of the most frequently asked questions, is a DUI a felony in Canada? Well, in short, a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge is a criminal offence in Canada. But it is not always a felony.

In most cases, a first-time DUI offence in Canada is a summary offence. And that is a less severe offence than a felony. However, if the driver’s BAC (blood alcohol content) is above a certain limit or if the driver has prior DUI convictions, the offence could be indictable.

Let’s know in detail about a felony charge in Canada below.

What is a Felony in Canada?

Some examples of indictable offences include:

  • Murder
  • Sexual assault
  • Robbery
  • Drug trafficking
  • Fraud over a certain dollar amount

A higher court deals with indictable crimes, such as the Supreme Court or Provincial Court of Appeal, and the accused person is entitled to a trial by jury.

In addition to indictable offences, there are also summary offences. You have already learned that these crimes are less serious.

Examples of summary offences include:

  • Assault
  • Theft under a certain dollar amount
  • Possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use

It’s important to note that the criminal justice system in Canada is complex, and the specific penalties for different offences can vary depending on the case’s circumstances and the judge’s discretion.

As you need to know in detail–is a DUI considered a felony in Canada, you should learn about the penalties as well. 

Let’s find out the details in the next section.

Can You Go to Jail for a DUI in Canada?

Yes, you might go to jail for a DUI conviction. But what actually happens when you get a DUI in Canada?

As a serious criminal offence, the penalties for a DUI conviction can be severe, such as:

  • Fines
  • License suspensions
  • Jail time

However, the specific penalties you’re going to receive will vary depending on the factors like:

  • Individual’s blood alcohol level at the time of the offence
  • Whether it is a first or subsequent offence
  • Whether the offence caused injury or death to another person

Nevertheless, for a first offence, an individual may face a fine of up to $1,000, a license suspension of up to one year, and a minimum of one year of mandatory participation in an ignition interlock program. In addition, they may face up to six months in jail if their blood alcohol level is over a certain limit.

Again, for subsequent offences, the penalties are more severe. An individual may face a longer license suspension, larger fines, longer mandatory participation in an ignition interlock program, and a longer jail sentence, which can range from 30 days to 10 years, depending on the number of prior offences and other factors.

What to Do If You Get a DUI in Canada?

Although the prosecution of every DUI case can be different, there are some common steps you take once arrested and charged with a DUI:

1. Stay Calm

Obviously, it will be stressful and overwhelming to get into trouble. But you must stay calm so that you cooperate with the police properly. Refrain from arguing with the police or resisting arrest, which can worsen the situation.

2. Hire a Lawyer

Usually, people seek professional legal help for these kinds of cases. Thus, we suggest hiring a lawyer specializing in DUI cases as soon as possible.

Not to mention, an experienced lawyer can help you with legal advice, represent you in court, and guide you in navigating the legal system.

Can’t afford a lawyer? You may be eligible for legal aid then, which will be provided by the law enforcement itself.

3. Attend Court

You will need to attend court for your arraignment, where you will enter a guilty or not guilty plea. Attending court on the scheduled date and time is important, as failure to do so can result in additional charges.

4. Follow Bail Conditions

If you are released on bail, it is important to follow the conditions of your bail. This includes avoiding consuming drugs or alcohol, surrendering your driver’s license, and attending court dates.

5. Attend Alcohol Education Programs

Based on the circumstances of your case, the prosecution will require you to attend alcohol education programs or counselling. It is important to attend these programs and complete them on time.

6. Consider a Plea Bargain

The strength of the evidence against you also matters. That’s why you may negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. This can result in reduced charges and penalties, but discussing this option with your lawyer is important.

7. Apply for a Record Suspension

After a certain amount of time, you may be eligible to apply for a record suspension. This can remove your criminal record from public databases, but it still exists in government records.

Final Remarks:

Impaired driving is a serious criminal offence but not a felony under Canadian law. Instead, a hybrid offence can result in both summary and indictable charges basing the severity of the offence and how many times you have committed the crime.

A DUI conviction can result in severe penalties, including fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment. Therefore, it is crucial to take impaired driving seriously and avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In addition, if charged with a DUI, it is important to seek legal advice and take appropriate steps to mitigate the consequences of the offence.


Get relevant information in the following queries:

Can I Get a Canadian Passport with a DUI Conviction?

A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction can affect your ability to obtain a Canadian passport, as it may impact your eligibility to enter other countries. However, a DUI conviction does not necessarily prevent you from obtaining a Canadian passport.

Does DUI Affect Your Credit Score?

A DUI  conviction does not directly affect your credit score because your credit score will depend on your circumstances, including your credit history, financial situation, and ability to manage your debts and expenses.

Is a DUI a Criminal offence in Canada?

A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is a criminal offence in Canada. It is also known as an “impaired driving” charge. Under Canadian law, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered a serious criminal offence. And it can result in severe penalties, including fines, driver’s license suspension, and even imprisonment.

Does a DUI Show on a Background Check in Canada?

Yes. But the duration of a DUI conviction on an individual’s criminal record in Canada depends on the severity of the offence and the sentence imposed.

In general, a DUI conviction will stay on an individual’s criminal record for at least five years from the date of conviction if it is a first offence. For subsequent offences, the length of time that the conviction remains on the individual’s criminal record is as long as 80 years.

Is It Possible to Prevent a DUI from Going on a Record?

You can completely remove a DUI from going on a record, as a DUI is a criminal offence. And it will result in a criminal record if the person is convicted. However, there are some options available that help mitigate the consequences of a DUI and reduce the impact it has on a person’s record:

  • Hire a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases
  • A plea bargain with the prosecution
  • Apply for a record suspension, formerly known as a pardon

© 2022 Merv Nidesh, KC & Linh Pham.