Can an impaired driving conviction affect my parental rights?

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2021 | Impaired Driving

An impaired driving charge has the potential to impact virtually every aspect of your life. If convicted, you may face challenges in landing a job, obtaining a loan or securing an apartment. For parents, however, an impaired driving infraction could have even more serious impacts on their future with their children. Here are some key risks that parents may face:

Child custody

If you are – or ever become – divorced from your child’s other parent, your impaired driving offence could be used against you in court. Your ex may use this evidence against you in:

  • A child custody hearing
  • A child custody modification
  • Other disputes that may arise between you two

Courts seek to determine custody arrangements that are in the best interests of the child, and such evidence could be damning.

Child endangerment

If your child was in the car with you at the time of your DUI stop, this could create serious problems for you. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a child in the vehicle is considered an aggravating factor under s. 718.2 of the Criminal Code. If you are convicted, your sentence could become more severe – such as mandated jail time instead of financial penalties.

Social services

It is also possible that Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) could become involved in your case – especially if your impaired driving stop occurred while your child was in the car. The CAS will want to determine whether your child is safe in your care, and they will perform an investigation into your character and your past. This could include:

  • Interviews with you, your family members and friends
  • Explorations into your and your family’s habits and schedules
  • Unannounced house visits to search for evidence of drug or alcohol use/abuse

In the worst-case scenario, the CAS could take custody of your kids.

What you can do

Facing an impaired driving charge – and the potential collateral consequences – can be a terrifying experience. However, you are entitled to counsel under the law, and this support can be extremely advantageous. Remember that an impaired driving charge is only an accusation of wrongdoing. Your lawyer can work to get your charges dropped or prove your innocence in court. There are many tactics that an experienced lawyer can employ to help you avoid a conviction.