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Tom Rees | Criminal Defence Lawyer Winnipeg

Criminal Law: Information About Impaired Driving


There are three charges that commonly arise in drunk driving situations:

  1. Impaired Driving
  2. Driving with Blood Alcohol Concentration Over Legal Limit
  3. Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample

The charged of Impaired Driving is usually based on the observations and opinions of witnesses. The police officers are often called as witnesses and testify about their observations of the accused person and their opinion about intoxication and to the indicia of impairment. The most common indicia of impairment include slurred speech, glassy eyes, and unsteadiness while walking or standing. Any amount of impairment is enough to make operating a motor vehicle illegal.

The Breathalyzer Machine uses a person’s breath to measure their blood alcohol concentration. It prints a report with the results of the breath test for the police. If a person’s blood alcohol concentration is greater than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, then they fail the test and are charged with a criminal offence. The Crown must prove that the police made a legal demand for a person to provide their breath, and that the person’s blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit in order for a person to be convicted of this offence.

The officer will require that the person provide two samples of their breath suitable for analysis. Those samples are usually taken 15-20 minutes apart. During the time between the breath samples, the officers often attempt to fill out the Impaired Drivers Information Checklist, which is a series of questions designed to assist the Prosecution expert to extrapolate the person’s level of intoxication when they were behind the wheel.

If a police officer makes a legal demand for a breath sample and the person either refuses to provide a sample or the sample they provide is not suitable for analysis, then the police can charge that person with Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample. The punishment for Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample is greater than the punishment for failing the test.

Impaired driving cases are very technical and involve certain time limits and Charter issues. There are minimum punishments for a person’s first offence, and mandatory jail sentences for second or subsequent offences. A conviction for Impaired Driving also comes with mandatory driving prohibitions and suspensions, and a criminal record.

A person’s vehicle is usually impounded when a person is charged with impaired driving. The impoundment period doubles if the accused person’s blood alcohol concentration is twice the legal limit or they refuse to provide a breath sample.

For more information, check out some of Tom Rees & Company’s other articles about impaired driving and driving offences.


*note: The information on this page is not legal advice.

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