Impaired driving cases are highly complex and technical. Understanding the issues that arise in these cases requires a strong level of knowledge in the law, Charter rights and litigation, and the scientific underpinning of impaired driving charges. My goal as a driving lawyer with a focus in impaired driving cases is to have the best level of knowledge possible about all of these issues.
Many lawyers do not take steps to appreciate or understand the complex science that goes into impaired driving cases. Faced with an instrument like the one depicted above, they would struggle to identify what it is. It's a liquid chromatography mass spectrometry instrument, for the record. And when it comes to operating the instrument and interpreting and understanding the results, many lawyers would similarly be at a loss.
I try to go the extra mile for my clients so that I can easily spot the important issues.
This week, I am working in Arlington, Texas, through a program called Serious Science for Serious Lawyers offered by the National College of DUI Defence in partnership with the University of Texas, Arlington. I have been a member of the College for several years. Although the course is expensive and a significant time commitment, I know that to be in the best position possible to defend my clients in impaired driving cases involving blood samples, I need to know as much as possible about the science and technology that goes into it.
With marijuana legalization on the horizon, and Bill C-46 soon to become law, blood samples will be taken in more and more impaired driving cases. Bill C-46 authorizes police officers to become qualified to perform blood draws in drug-impaired driving cases, and the advent of legalization will make this a necessity. Meanwhile, British Columbia's marijuana impaired-driving legislation relies on the results of blood tests to impose strict penalties.
The defences in these cases will turn not on a lawyer's knowledge of the law alone. Many of the cases about alcohol-impaired driving laws in British Columbia that I have successfully argued have centered around the operation, maintenance, and calibration of breath-testing equipment. Indeed, limitations on defences in the Criminal Code permit only challenges that address whether the testing was done correctly or the instrument was calibrated correctly. Without knowing the calibration and operation procedures for these instruments, a lawyer can easily miss important defences.
It is one thing for me to be able to talk the talk about impaired driving. I know that as a lawyer, it is a disservice to my clients if I also cannot walk the walk. And so I am taking this course.
With Day One down, I am excited to be heading back to the laboratory tomorrow and to continue to learn absolutely everything necessary to defend my clients to the fullest extent the law permits me to do.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, cannabis legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.