Impaired driving charges are very technical. The police must follow many procedures before conducting a traffic stop and an arrest. If the procedures set out in the Criminal Code of Canada are not followed, the police officer’s testimony that an individual was impaired will not be admitted as evidence. Police must also have reasonable grounds to believe that someone’s ability to drive their vehicle is impaired by alcohol or drugs. If the police officer cannot identify numerous factors that formed their belief that someone was impaired, there may be a defence to the charge.
Below are some of the most common defences for impaired driving offences:
Reasonable and Probable Grounds: police must have a reason, called "reasonable and probable grounds", to stop someone and ask about their drinking habits. Without reasonable probable grounds, the evidence that someone is impaired will not be accepted.
Rights To Counsel:police must inform you of your right to speak to a lawyer before they interrogate you. The police must inform you of this right promptly, and offer you the opportunity to speak with the lawyer of your choice in private.
Recent Driving: it is important to speak to your lawyer about the last drink you had. For example, if your last drink was after you drove, the fact that you were impaired while you were arrested does not mean you were driving while impaired.
The Crown Can’t Prove Impaired: the crown must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an offence has been committed. Police must be able to testify about many different observations of impairment. If the crown cannot prove that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs, the judge cannot convict you.
Delay: you have a right to a trial within a reasonable time limit. If there is a delay of more than 10 months between the time you were charged to the day of your trial, excluding the time needed to prepare your case, the Crown and Court are responsible and this may create a defence to the charge.
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