Something is rotten in the Province of Ontario.
And if I weren’t so upset by it, I would be inserting jokes at Ontario’s expense here.
Ever since the Newmarket region of Ontario set Canada’s record for the highest sentence ever handed down in an impaired driving case, after the Marco Muzzo sentencing, Ontario has developed a disturbing trend of issuing jail sentences to first time impaired drivers.
This is incredibly problematic and serves only to harm the administration of justice in the long term. And this blog post explains why.
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.
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."
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.
The law is a funny thing. It applies in all sorts of really interesting scenarios, and much of it seems rather straightforward. But sometimes the law can be weird and wacky. Sometimes the law can apply in strange circumstances that do not make much sense at all. Or, the particular facts of a case and be so unusual that they will make you laugh. Or cry. Or both.
For that reason, I've started a new weekly blog series called Weird and Wacky Wednesdays. In this series, I will do a roundup of a few cases that are weird, wacky, or otherwise strange and interesting. My hope is to provide a quick summary of the case and a discussion about some interesting legal issues that arise in the case.
So here we go with Round One!
On Episode Five of Driving Law with Kyla Lee I sat down with Paul Doroshenko from Acumen Law Corporation. We talked about the changes to ICBC's Driver Risk Premium, which will increase premiums for drivers who are convicted of any high risk offences. And in the second half of the episode, I spoke with Acumen's Agnes Tong about how DUI convictions will impact your ability to enter Canada or remain in Canada as a visitor or Permanent Resident.
You can listen here, subscribe on iTunes, and tune in next week for another episode.
One of the biggest questions that defence lawyers have about marijuana legalization has to do with marijuana amnesty and sentencing. Individuals who possess marijuana for personal use are still being charged in Canada. Their charges are still going to court.
Despite the fact that the Government has announced their intention to legalize marijuana, people are still leaving court with criminal records for marijuana offences, and some are receiving jail sentences.
Frankly, I find this practice appalling.
There’s been a lot of perceived dismay ever since the Supreme Court of Canada released its Jordan decision last year. This case concerned whether the time it took between the charge laid against an alleged drug dealer and his trial was so lengthy that it was an unreasonable delay.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the accused. And from that decision, identified a new presumptive ceiling for what would constitute an unreasonable delay – 18 months for provincial cases, and 30 months for superior court cases. Since then, about 200 cases have been thrown out of court. The media are crying foul, pointing at the apparent injustice that alleged murderers, sexual deviants, drug dealers and child predators are being freed without being tried.
Back in 1975, the Supreme Court of Canada made a groundbreaking decision on drunk driving. The decision was about the admissibility of breathalyzer test results presented in court. In this decision, the Court held that breathalyzer results, even absent evidence the breath sample was lawfully obtained, could still be used in court to convict a driver for being over the blood alcohol limit, with this caveat: as long as the driver did in fact provide a breath sample, and a certificate of analysis was admitted into evidence.
In plain English, what the court was saying is that if you provided a breath sample, even if the demand for the breath sample was unlawful, the results of that breath test could be used against you in court.
Since then, courts across the country have gone back and forth about whether that decision remains good law or whether it's absolutely bonkers that unlawfully obtained evidence is somehow still admissible in court.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, marijuana legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.