June 2018

What Tomorrow’s SCC Decision in R. v. Suter Means for Random Breath Testing

Tomorrow the Supreme Court of Canada will be releasing reasons in a highly-anticipated appeal in the impaired driving world.

Richard Suter entered a guilty plea to refusal to provide a sample of his breath, after an accident causing death. He was having an argument with his wife, when he pressed angrily on the gas pedal. His intention was to hit the brake. His vehicle collided with a restaurant patio, striking several people and killing a small boy.

What is interesting about this case is that after Mr. Suter was arrested for impaired driving, he was given legal advice not to provide a sample. It is a criminal offence to refuse to blow, and this legal advice was incorrect. Mr. Suter nevertheless pled guilty, and sentenced to four months jail. On appeal, the Court of Appeal increased the jail term to 26 months. The issue on appeal was whether the incorrect legal advice gave rise to a mistake of law that ought to have allowed Mr. Suter a lighter sentence.

BC Court of Appeal case shows the lack of oversight for mandatory vehicle impoundment

An aspect of the Motor Vehicle Act that rarely gets discussed, but in my opinion deserves to be because it’s hugely unfair, is mandatory vehicle impoundment.

Under the Section 251 of the Act police have the power to impound your vehicle for a variety of reasons, including if they have reasonable grounds to believe you have a driving prohibition, your licence has been suspended, you have been racing or you have been driving at excessive speed (anything more than 40km/hr over the posted speed limit).

Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume Six

This week’s roundup of weird and wacky legal cases features heavily cases involving impaired driving and DUI stops. Why? Because drunk people are often always good for a laugh and for creating new or interesting legal analysis. This week, a man chugged a beer at a DUI stop, while another DUI offender claimed his dog was driving. Finally, just to mix it up, we look at the Wendy’s where it truly was “waaaaaay better than fast food.”

Kyla Lee in Vice: Canada’s New Impaired Driving Laws Give Cops A Terrifying Amount of Power

All eyes were on the passing of the Cannabis Act last week, which will make it legal to buy recreational weed in Canada on October 17. But the government also passed its impaired driving bill—one that gives police sweeping new powers and could criminalize drivers who are completely sober.
Bill C-46 creates new offences for people who drive with a certain amount of THC in their system and toughens up the rules around drinking and driving. While that may sound like a good thing—no one wants dangerous drivers on the road—experts argue several parts of the bill are unconstitutional and will trample on the rights of citizens.

Does a Newfoundland Court Ruling Signal Another Challenge to Polygamy Laws?

In a recent court ruling, a judge in Newfoundland has found that three adults are all the legal parents of a child. And while some court rulings in the past have found that a child can have multiple parents after living in a split home or a mixed family, this ruling is the first of its kind. However, what it leaves open is a tiny crack in the door for another challenge to the polygamy laws in Canada.

Does Legal Weed Signal an Impending Impaired Driving Crisis?

In the spirit of reefer madness and fear-mongering, the decision by the Canadian Senate to back down from their amendments to marijuana legalization has already sparked debate about carange on our roadways. But does the effective legalization of marijuana in Canada pose any realistic risk?

Frankly, that’s doubtful.

This is not another article about the science behind marijuana and driving impairment. What it is instead is a look into Canada’s impaired driving legislation that already exists, to see how there is already an effective enforcement scheme set up in our existing laws. What the Federal Government is proposing in Bill C-46 for an overhaul of impaired driving legislation is just not necessary.

And here’s why.

What Does Cannabis Legalization Today Mean for Drivers?

Since the move toward legalization of recreational marijuana began after the last federal election, a lot of discussion has taken place surrounding marijuana-impaired driving. What has never been clear throughout all this discussion is what the existing state of the law is when it comes to cannabis impairment and driving. This has not been assisted by the introduction of Bill C-46, which creates separate offences involving marijuana and driving.

This post breaks down marijuana impaired driving as it currently stands in British Columbia and under federal criminal law.

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