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Precautions & Holiday Drunk Driving Charges

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes the inevitable surge of drunk drivers. It would seem that those who drink and drive simply do not appreciate the many benefits of driving sober, including:

• Not injuring others;
• Not injuring yourself;
• Not having to spend the night in jail; and
• Not having to pay a criminal defence lawyer to defend you.

In addition to the above, an often overlooked benefit of choosing not to drink and drive, is not having to deal with the consequences of being convicted of impaired driving….a lesson our dear friend Ernie1 had to learn the hard way.

Ernie Learns a Tough Lesson

Last December, Ernie was out at his boss’ non-denominational holiday event in downtown Toronto. Ernie arrived at 8:00 pm, having driven there from his home in Mississauga. His intention was to “only have a couple of drinks”, and Ernie was certain that he would be “fine to drive home” at the end of the night.

Within about an hour and a half of arriving at the event, Ernie was already on his third gin and tonic. Oddly enough, after he finished his first two drinks Ernie began to notice that the alcohol he had consumed was having a strange “intoxicating” effect on him, and for reasons that will forever remain a mystery to him, Ernie’s resolve to limit himself to only two drinks began to melt away – like Frosty the Snowman.

By the time the event ended at 2:00AM, Ernie had consumed a total of 8 gin and tonics, each containing 1.5 oz. of gin, at a rate of about one drink every 45 minutes.

How Impaired is Ernie?

As Ernie exited the event his friend Alan asked him if he was all right to drive home. “I’m good”, replied Ernie, “I have a high alcohol tolerance, and I am totally fine to drive”. Ernie then got in his car and began to drive home.

Unfortunately for Ernie the impaired driving provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada say that if your blood alcohol level exceeds 80 mg/100ml of blood you are deemed to be impaired. The important question isn’t how fine Ernie felt when he was driving home, but rather, how high was his blood alcohol
content?

Fortunately for us, the internet has many free and easy to use blood alcohol calculators. The consensus amongst the online calculators is that a 45 year old male that weighs 180lbs who has consumed a total of 8 x 1.5 oz of gin at a rate of one drink every 45 minutes over a period of six hours will have
an approximate blood alcohol content exceeding 100 mg/100 ml. This exceeds the legal limit under the Criminal Code, and this means Ernie was deemed to be impaired when he drove his car home at the end of the night.

Ernie Gets Pulled Over

To be extra careful, Ernie decided to avoid the Gardiner Expressway and the QEW and stuck to the city streets. The roads were slick that night, and Ernie skid into a curb around High Park. The police officer who was tailing Ernie noticed this and pulled Ernie over.

“Have you consumed any alcohol this evening, sir?” asked the police officer. “Only a couple of drinks over a few hours”, replied Ernie. One failed road side sobriety test later, Ernie was at the police station blowing into a breathalyzer. Not surprisingly, Ernie failed the breathalyzer exam and he was charged with operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content exceeding 80 mg/100 ml, to which he subsequently plead guilty.

The Implications of Ernie’s Criminal Conviction

As a result of being convicted of impaired driving it was mandatory that Ernie lose his driver’s license for a minimum of one year. Ernie needed his driver’s license to be able to perform his job duties (he was a salesperson) and, because he was not able to drive for a year, he was fired from his job.
To make matters worse, Ernie had to cancel his family trip to Florida in the spring because when he tried to enter the United States he was denied entry at the border.

The United States’ Customs and Boarder Protection is given access to Canada’s National Repository of Criminal Records (NRCR). When Ernie tried to cross the border he was required to present his Canadian passport to US Customs. US Customs in turn searched our NRCR and discovered Ernie’s conviction. Ernie is told that he can apply for a waiver to ensure he is given access to the US in the future, but this will take many months, and there is no
guarantee that the waiver will be granted.

The Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is that even when no one is physically injured, drinking and driving can have an enormous adverse impact on the driver and his/her family. The next time you think your friend or loved one might drive while impaired, don’t hesitate to tell them about your pal Ernie, how he lost
his job and his ability to vacation with his family. If that doesn’t work call them a cab!

If you have any questions relating to any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dennis Van Sickle at dvansickle@kmblaw.com or 905.276.0413

1 Ernie is fictional. I made him up. His story is fictional. I also made it up.

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This article is provided for general information purposes and should not be considered a legal opinion. Clients are advised to obtain legal advice on their specific situations.

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