Book Review: Impaired Driving and Other Criminal Code Driving Offences: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Karen Jokinen and Peter Keen.

After Bill C-46 was introduced, impaired driving practitioners across the country had a lot of questions. And while we all conferred amongst ourselves (and through the Canadian Impaired Driving Lawyers Association) about what was going to come of these changes to the impaired driving regime, two enterprising lawyers set out to write a book about it.
 
I was very kindly asked to review the book, and post my thoughts on my blog. So without further ado, here is my review of Impaired Driving and Other Criminal Code Driving Offences: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Karen Jokinen and Peter Keen.

The first thing that is apparent about this book is that it is well-researched. Like any good lawyer, upon receiving my copy I immediately flipped to the table of cases to see whether any of my cases made the cut. I was impressed to see that the table spans some twenty one pages, in tiny font. And while I recognized the names of many of the important cases in criminal and impaired driving law, I was also pleased to see that there were other cases I had either never heard of, or that do not get much attention but stand for important principles.
 
Sadly, only one of my cases ended up in the book. But that’s more of a personal quibble. I’ll consider sending my unreported decisions to the authors for their next edition…
 
The book begins with an introduction that draws the reader in. It is the story of the authors having to essentially rewrite the entire book upon the introduction of C-46. It is a useful aspect of the book, as it shows just how much dedication was given to the text to make you appreciate it but also so you have sympathy for the authors. I felt a personal connection as I read through, which is rare for a legal text.
 
The book is well-written, but also easy to read. In my first 45 minutes reading I covered a good third of the book and was enjoying myself. Often, I would find myself arguing with the authors in my brain by thinking they did not consider a point or a defence, only to find it arose in a subsequent paragraph or under the next heading, so the book while easy to read is also thorough. I packed it along with me to a few trials I had in December and early January and it proved very useful.
 
Mixed among the text are sections set against a red background, called Practice Tips. If you’re in a pinch on a particular issue, the practice tips are where to look to ensure you’re searching for the right disclosure and raising the right issues in Charter notice. There are also stories of failed cross-examination that are helpful for those among us who tend to be bullish. These stories also help to break up the monotony of a pure legal summary, and make the material accessible.
 
As a serious practitioner of impaired driving law, I can say that this book is a fantastic addition to any library. It is great for the beginner who needs to learn quickly about impaired driving, but there are gems in there that will benefit even the most experienced impaired driving counsel. The structure of the book is smart; each chapter is a specific issue and it stands alone, so if you have a particularly complex case on refusal to provide a sample, or a serious question about what the meaning of “conveyance” is, you can flip to that particular chapter and read through the issue in only twenty or so pages. This saves having to search the whole text for one nugget buried somewhere in the book.
 
One criticism I do have, aside from having too few of my cases, is that the book does have a strong Ontario leaning. There are certain defences and Charter arguments that have been rejected in Ontario but are alive and well in British Columbia. It would have been nice to see a more national approach, but the reasons are understandable. Both authors are Ontario-based, and the nature of impaired driving law is such that if you look hard enough you can find a case that says anything. No one can be expected to know every case.
 
So I would not take the book at its word in stating that a defence simply does not exist without checking the citation for that proposition and then checking the relevant case law in your jurisdiction. But it is useful in the sense that it will give you an argument to think about as what the Crown will say so you can be better prepared to defend your client.
 
I highly recommend purchasing this book. As C-46 is litigated across this country, this text will be a helpful reference and a handy guide to ensuring your clients get the best defence possible and ensuring you fully understand the nuance of the new impaired driving law.
 
Authors Keen and Jokinen also joined me on the Driving Law podcast, and if you listen to the end of the episode you can get a discount code good until January 14, 2019 to order the book.

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