My essay is on “Drinking and Driving Offences”. In my essay I will tell you the various kinds of drinking and driving offences, the penalties, and the defences you can make if you are caught drinking and driving. Let me tell you about the different offences.
There are six offences in drinking and driving. They are “driving while impaired”, “Having care and control of a vehicle while impaired”, “Driving while exceeding 80 m.g.”, “Having care and control of a vehicle while exceeding 80 m.g.”, “Refusing to give a breath sample”, and “refusing to submit to a roadside screen test. These are all Criminal Code Offences. Now lets talk about the penalties of drinking and driving.
The sentence for “refusing to give a breath sample” is usually higher than either of the “exceeding 80 m.g.” offences. Consequently it is usually easier in the long run for you to give a breath sample if asked. If, for example you are convicted of “Refusing ato give a breath sample” for the first time, but was earlier convicted of “Driving while impaired”, your conviction for “Refusing” will count as a second conviction, not a first, and will receive the stiffer penalty for second offences. For the first offence here is the penalty and the defences you can make.
Driving a vehicle while your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs is one of the offences. Evidence of your condition can be used to convict you. This can include evidence of your general conduct, speech, ability to walk a straight line or pick up objects. The penalty of the first offences is a fine of $50.00 to $2000.00 and/or imprisonment of up to six months, and automatic suspension of licence for 3 months. The second offence penalty is imprisonment for 14 days to 1 year and automatic suspen- sion of licence for 6 months. The third offence penalty is imprisonment 2 for 3 months to 2 years (or more) and automatic suspension of licence for six months.
These penalties are the same for the following offences. “Having Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Impaired” is another offence. Having care and control of a vehicle does not require that you be driving it. Occupying the driver’s seat, even if you did not have the keys, is sufficient. Walking towards the car with the keys could be suffi- cient. Some defences are you were not impaired, or you did not have care and control because you were not in the driver’s seat, did not have the keys, etc. It is not a defence that you registered below 80 m.g. on the breath- ayzer test.
Having care and control depends on all circumstances. “Driving While Exceeding 80 m.g. is the next offence. Driving a vehicle, having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the proportion of alcohol in your blood exceeds 80 miligrams of alcohol in 100 mililitres of blood. Some defences are the test was administered improperly, or the breathalyzer machine was not functioning properly.
“Having Care and control of a Motor Vehicle while Exceeding 80 m.g.” is the next offence I will talk about. This offence means having care and control of a vehicle whether it is in motion or not, having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the proportion of alcohol in your blood exceeds 80 miligrams of alcohol in 100 mililitres of blood. The defences are the test was administered improperly, or the breathalyzer machine was not functioning properly. To defend against breathalyzer evidence you must understand how the test should be administered.
The proper procedure for a breathalyzer test is as follows. Warming up the machine until the thermometer registers 50 degrees centigrade. This should take at least 10 minutes. The machine should then be turned to zero (by using the “adjust zero control”) and a comparison ampoulel (of normal air) inserted.
if the metre remains at zero, the test can proceed. An ampoule with a standard solution is then inserted. 3 If the metre reads high or low by more than .02% on two successive tests, the machine should not be used. If the trial is valid, the machine should be flushed with room air and the pointer set at start.
You will then be asked to provide two breath samples, about fifteen minutes apart. Normally they will take the result of the lowest result and use it as evidence against you. “Refusing to Give a Breath Sample” means refusing without a reasonable excuse to give a sample or refusing without a reasonable excuse to accompany a polic officer, when demanded by the police officer. Before demanding by the police officer, he must have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that you are committing or at any time in the preceeding two hours have committed, one of the offences of driving or having care and control of a vehicle while impaired or while having a blood alcohol level in excess of 80 m.g.
You can refuse to give a breath sample until you have communicated in private with your lawyer even if this takes you beyond the two hour period, unless it is shown that your request for a lawyer was not genuine and merely to delay the testing. The test can be done after the two hour period, but a technician must testify in court as to what your blood alcohol would have been in the two hour period. You cannot refuse to accom- pany the officer until you see your lawyer. You can argue that the officer didn’t have reasonable and probable grounds to suspect you, but this however depends on the circumstances.
“Refusing to submit to a Roadside Screening Test” is the last offence. When you commit this offence you are refusing without reasonable excuse to give a breath sample for a roadside screening device, or refusing without reasonable excuse to accompany a police officer for the purposes of giving such a sample, when demanded by an officer. Before the officer demands a breathalyzer he must reasonably suspect that you have alcohol in your blood.
The maximum penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm to someone is up to 10 years in prison and up to a 10 year prohabition from driving. The maximum penalties for impaired driving causing death is up to 14 years and a 10 year prohabition from driving. The maximum penalty for manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death is up to life in prison and up to a lifetime prohabition from driving.
I think that these penalties for all the drinking and driving offences are very appropriate, but I think impaired driving causing death should be a lifetime imprisonment. Also if a person is impaired and causes bodily harm to some one they should have their licence suspended from him for 20 years instead of 10 years.
- Highway Traffic Law, (Copyright January 1986: Community Legal Education Ontario) p.17-32
- Government Document, Canada Law Reform Commision Report on Investigative Tests: Aclohol, Drugs, and Driving Offences (1983).
- Erwin,Richard E. M.Bender ,Defence of Drunk Driving Cases, Criminal Civil (Albany 1986) p.79-81
- Purich, Donald John, Drinking and Driving:What To Do If Your Caught (International Self Counsel Pr. 1978) p.22-25
- Verticle File at Hill Crest Library, Drinking and Driving-Offences ands penalties:A Summary (1988) p.2