Impaired Driving & DUI
The term impaired driving (also referred to as DUI or Driving Under the Influence) is a general term used to describe the criminal offence of operating or having care or control of a motor vehicle while the person’s ability to operate the motor vehicle is impaired by alcohol or a drugs.
The legal limit is set out in the Criminal Code as a blood alcohol content of over .08. In public slang this offence is described as an “over 80 offence”. This offence does not require the driver to actually be impaired by alcohol, but parliament has set a limit (artificially) that states everyone who provides blood, or breath samples over the legal limit is guilty of a Criminal Offence pursuant to s. 253(b) of operating a motor vehicle “having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person’s blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood”. The United States government views driving over the legal limit as an offence of a regulatory nature which lacks moral culpability.
Impaired driving, unlike “over 80”, is actually properly understood to refer to operating a motor vehicle at a time and place when the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is actually impaired by alcohol or drug. There is no legal limit requirement. Generally, if a person is charged with the over the legal limit offence they will be charged with being impaired as well. Proof of impairment must be observable, and will almost inevitably require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the driving pattern contained behavior that could only have reasonably come from impairment. (That is not the legal test, but an accurate depiction of most factual cases where impairment is proven).
There are multiple other related offences in the Criminal Code, with their own penalties, which depending on the circumstances and any harm that may have been caused by the impaired driving. It can also result in various types of driver’s licence suspensions. The penalties are identical for impaired driving and driving with a BAC greater than .08.
Police have a number of highly unusual powers to assist in the enforcement of these types of offences, and there are a number of presumptions that assist in the prosecution of the offences. An example of a highly unusual power given to police is the power to demand a roadside screening device sample without giving an accused the right to counsel. Given the presumptions, and requirements to empower police with these special powers the law in this area has become incredibly complicated, and beyond the ability of a member of the public to defend themselves.
In any criminal case an accused should always seek legal representation. Mr. Royer has a record of successfully defending people charged with these offences.