Fighting An Impaired Driving Charge In Ontario

At the end of 2018, the federal government made significant changes to Canada’s impaired driving laws with the aim of making them amongst the strongest in the world. The most important aspects of the reforms include:

  • Authorizing police to demand breathalyzer tests without reasonable suspicion of impairment as grounds for justification;
  • Elimination of the ‘bolus’ defence and making it illegal to be at or over the blood alcohol limit within two hours of being behind the wheel;
  • Increases in mandatory minimum punishments and fines; and
  • Increases in maximum penalties.

These reforms also increase the ability of police to conduct searches, which can lead to more charges. They may also lead to immigration consequences for non-citizens even if an impaired driving charge does not lead to death or injury but is nonetheless pursued by the Crown as an indictable offence. If facing impaired or Over ‘80’ charges, this can all be extremely overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. However, there are ways to fight these charges.

The lawyers at Chand Snider LLP are seasoned criminal defence lawyers who have accumulated an abundance of knowledge to fight impaired or over ‘80’ charges. Listed below, courtesy of Chand Snider LLP at NO COST, are 6 WAYS YOU CAN FIGHT these charges.

1. CHALLENGE THE ROADSIDE TEST

Roadside tests are not without issues. When problems with how a roadside test has been administered can be pointed out to a court, there is an avenue to challenging the charges. These machines must be in proper working condition and the police must demonstrate they took reasonable steps toward ensuring the machine’s functionality, in addition to properly administering the actual roadside breathalyzer test.

Roadside tests must also be proven to be reliable in court. If a police officer did not properly calibrate the machine, test it before deploying in the field, or did not follow the procedures for administering the test, there are grounds to challenge the reliability of the breathalyzer test.

2. CHALLENGE THE ADMISSION OF ANY STATEMENTS YOU MAY HAVE MADE

It is always best to exercise your right to remain silent and not make utterances about your guilt to a police officer, as this will likely be used against you in court. In the tense moments of a detention during which a police officer is making demands of you, one might feel compelled to say something and many often do. However, if such a statement was obtained in an involuntary manner, your rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms may have been violated, and this can be grounds for having an incriminating statement denied admission as evidence against you.

3. SEEK ADDITIONAL DISCLOSURE AND EVIDENCE FROM THE CROWN

The Crown is under a legal obligation to provide an accused with all relevant evidence in their possession that will be used against the accused. However, an accused can seek further evidence above what is initially disclosed if they apply for such evidence and can demonstrate a sufficient basis for calling this additional evidence. If this can be established, the Crown must disclose this additional evidence. Failure to disclose this relevant material evidence, and in a reasonably timely manner, can lead to a Charter breach sufficiently serious enough to warrant the dismissal of charges.

4. PURSUE A STAY OF PROCEEDINGS IF A WITNESS FAILS TO TESTIFY

Civilian witnesses can establish an accused’s identity. In other words, they can place an accused behind the wheel of a car. They can also speak to an accused’s level of intoxication. However, if a witness is important enough in establishing identity or level of intoxication, and they fail to show up to testify, a stay of proceedings can be pursued.

5. UTILIZE VIDEO EVIDENCE

Many police officers have a tendency to exaggerate their observations during their testimony in an effort to justify their actions and the laying of charges. Sometimes police are just mistaken in what they observe, however, if such exaggerations or mistakes can be highlighted to a court the officer’s reliability, credibility or both can be challenged.

One of the best avenues of doing this can be video evidence. Video evidence can be gleaned from dashcam footage from police cruisers or civilian vehicles equipped with dashcams, civilian cell phone footage, and surveillance cameras. If video footage contradicts an officer’s testimony, this can lead to an acquittal.

6. CHALLENGE THE RELIABILITY AND/OR CREDIBILITY OF A POLICE OFFICER’S EVIDENCE.

As stated before, sometimes police exaggerate or make mistakes. Moreover, sadly, but in reality, police officers lie as well. Accordingly, a police officer’s reliability and credibility can be sufficiently attacked and in some cases an officer’s evidence can be excluded or given minimal weight by a court.

A police officer is also under an obligation to take contemporaneous notes of crucial observations. A failure to do so can lead to any observations submitted by police during their testimony being rejected by the court. If an officer fails to take notes of adequate quality or their observations can be proven wrong by other evidence, their testimony can be given no weight. 

You can also attack police explanations and interpretations of events. Police often mistakenly, or intentionally, interpret certain behaviours as indications of criminal behaviour. For example, a police officer may testify that an accused was slurring their words and walking off-kilter, but then fail to mention that the individual may have suffered an injury or become disoriented from an accident. Or they may testify that an accused’s eyes were red and teary yet fail to mention that they were crying when they made these observations. If reasonable alternative explanations for behaviour deemed incriminating can be provided to a court, an officer’s observations can be challenged.

CONCLUSION: 6 WAYS TO FIGHT DUI CHARGES IN ONTARIO

Reading these suggestions, you’ve probably reached the conclusion that addressing impaired driving or over ‘80’ charges is not as easy and straightforward as you initially had hoped. Frankly, there is no formula that will automatically guarantee an acquittal or withdrawal of charges. It takes effort, knowledge, intelligence, strategy and bold advocacy to tackle the complex legal, technological, and scientific interconnections that operate in tandem in impaired driving and driving over ‘80’ cases.

At Chand Snider LLP, as expert litigators, that is exactly what we provide to our clients and have done so in hundreds of impaired driving and driving over ‘80’ case. If facing such charges, choosing the right lawyer can be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. So, make the right choice. Choose the expert litigators at Chand Snider LLP. Choose to have LIONS AT YOUR SIDE.

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