Being charged with drunk or impaired driving can have serious consequences for your life, career, and personal relationships. In Canada, these offences are legally referred to as “impaired driving” and “driving over 80.” It is essential to understand the legal process and the defence strategies available to you to challenge these types of allegations.
Understand the charges
The first step in refuting allegations of impaired driving is understanding the two main types of charges you may face:
a. Impaired driving: This charge applies if you are found to be operating a motor vehicle while your ability to do so is impaired by alcohol or a drug. It is based on the officer’s observations and the overall circumstances.
b. Driving over 80: This charge applies if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (0.08) within two hours of driving. This charge is based on a breath or blood test result.
Question the legality of the stop
For an over 80mg% allegation, one potential defence strategy is to challenge the legality of the breath demand. The officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that you were committing an offence. The lack of reasonable and probable grounds could trigger numerous Charter of Rights issues surrounding your detention, the search and seizure and your right to counsel.
If a court finds that your rights were violated, the evidence obtained during the stop may be deemed inadmissible, leading to a potential dismissal of the charges.
Challenge the breath or blood test results
Breath and blood tests are central to many over 80mg% cases, and challenging their accuracy or reliability can be an effective defence strategy. Some factors that could be grounds for challenging test results include:
- Inadequate calibration or maintenance of the breathalyzer device
- Improper administration of the test by the officer
- Contamination or mishandling of the blood sample
- Medical conditions or medications affecting the test results
- Time elapsed between driving and testing
Dispute the officer’s observations
The officer’s observations and opinion on your level of impairment may be used as evidence against you in an impaired driving charge. However, you can challenge the credibility or reliability of these observations, including:
- The officer’s training and experience in detecting impaired drivers
- The objectivity of the officer’s testimony
- The presence of alternative explanations for the observed signs of impairment (e.g., fatigue, illness, or nervousness)
- The accuracy of the officer’s recollection or notes
Don’t take your DUI charge lightly – take action to defend yourself
It’s important to seek out a lawyer with a proven history of achieving positive outcomes such as withdrawn charges, acquittals at trial, or the negotiation of reduced penalties.
A knowledgeable lawyer will have the skills needed to contest your charge. Please request a free consultation to learn more.