History Impaired Driving and Over 80 Offences

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Overview

The predecessor to alcohol-related driving offences is the summary offence of "driving while intoxicated" initially found in the 1921 Criminal Code.

Chronology

In 1925, the offence was was expanded to include drugs and to include "care and control".

In 1930, the offence was made into a hybrid offence.

In 1947, a presumption of care and control where the accused was found in the driver's seat was created. This is now found in s. 258(1)(a).

In 1951, the offence was changed to driving while "impaired".

In 1969, the additional offence of driving while "over 80" was created as well all drivers were required to give a breath sample on demand.

In 1976, the penalties for "over 80" and refusal were made the same.

On July 2, 2008, Bill C-2 came into force,[1]. It made the following changes:

  • amending s. 258(1)(c) and (d), removing references to “evidence to the contrary” and added “conclusive proof”. The effect of this was to remove the effect of s. 25 of the Interpretation Act which permitted the defence to present “evidence to the contrary” once s. 258(1)(c) is established;
  • gave the police power to demand that a driver perform a standard field sobriety test for both alcohol and drugs;
  • altered the requirements for "reasonable suspicion" under s. 254(2) for a ASD demand. The new version requires the additional component that the officer suspect that the driver was in care and control of the vehicle within the preceding 2 hours;
  • added s. 254.1 which permits the creation of regulations.

Section 253 to 255 (2000 to 2008)

Operation while impaired
253. Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle or vessel or operates or assists in the operation of an aircraft or of railway equipment or has the care or control of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment, whether it is in motion or not,

(a) while the person’s ability to operate the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment is impaired by alcohol or a drug; or
(b) having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person’s blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 253; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 36, c. 32 (4th Supp.), s. 59.


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Definitions
254. (1) In this section and sections 255 to 258,
“analyst” means a person designated by the Attorney General as an analyst for the purposes of section 258;
“approved container” means

(a) in respect of breath samples, a container of a kind that is designed to receive a sample of the breath of a person for analysis and is approved as suitable for the purposes of section 258 by order of the Attorney General of Canada, and
(b) in respect of blood samples, a container of a kind that is designed to receive a sample of the blood of a person for analysis and is approved as suitable for the purposes of section 258 by order of the Attorney General of Canada;


“approved instrument” means an instrument of a kind that is designed to receive and make an analysis of a sample of the breath of a person in order to measure the concentration of alcohol in the blood of that person and is approved as suitable for the purposes of section 258 by order of the Attorney General of Canada;
“approved screening device” means a device of a kind that is designed to ascertain the presence of alcohol in the blood of a person and that is approved for the purposes of this section by order of the Attorney General of Canada;
“qualified medical practitioner” means a person duly qualified by provincial law to practise medicine;
“qualified technician” means,

(a) in respect of breath samples, a person designated by the Attorney General as being qualified to operate an approved instrument, and
(b) in respect of blood samples, any person or person of a class of persons designated by the Attorney General as being qualified to take samples of blood for the purposes of this section and sections 256 and 258.

Testing for presence of alcohol in the blood
(2) Where a peace officer reasonably suspects that a person who is operating a motor vehicle or vessel or operating or assisting in the operation of an aircraft or of railway equipment or who has the care or control of a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft or of railway equipment, whether it is in motion or not, has alcohol in the person’s body, the peace officer may, by demand made to that person, require the person to provide forthwith such a sample of breath as in the opinion of the peace officer is necessary to enable a proper analysis of the breath to be made by means of an approved screening device and, where necessary, to accompany the peace officer for the purpose of enabling such a sample of breath to be taken.
Samples of breath or blood where reasonable belief of commission of offence
(3) Where a peace officer believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a person is committing, or at any time within the preceding three hours has committed, as a result of the consumption of alcohol, an offence under section 253, the peace officer may, by demand made to that person forthwith or as soon as practicable, require that person to provide then or as soon thereafter as is practicable

(a) such samples of the person’s breath as in the opinion of a qualified technician, or
(b) where the peace officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that, by reason of any physical condition of the person,
(i) the person may be incapable of providing a sample of his breath, or
(ii) it would be impracticable to obtain a sample of the person’s breath,

such samples of the person’s blood, under the conditions referred to in subsection (4), as in the opinion of the qualified medical practitioner or qualified technician taking the samples are necessary to enable proper analysis to be made in order to determine the concentration, if any, of alcohol in the person’s blood, and to accompany the peace officer for the purpose of enabling such samples to be taken.

Exception
(4) Samples of blood may only be taken from a person pursuant to a demand made by a peace officer under subsection (3) if the samples are taken by or under the direction of a qualified medical practitioner and the qualified medical practitioner is satisfied that the taking of those samples would not endanger the life or health of the person.
Failure or refusal to provide sample
(5) Every one commits an offence who, without reasonable excuse, fails or refuses to comply with a demand made to him by a peace officer under this section.
Only one conviction for failure to comply with demand
(6) A person who is convicted of an offence committed under subsection (5) for a failure or refusal to comply with a demand made under subsection (2) or paragraph (3)(a) or (b) in respect of any transaction may not be convicted of another offence committed under subsection (5) in respect of the same transaction.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 254; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 36, c. 1 (4th Supp.), ss. 14, 18(F), c. 32 (4th Supp.), s. 60; 1999, c. 32, s. 2(Preamble).


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Punishment
255. (1) Every one who commits an offence under section 253 or 254 is guilty of an indictable offence or an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable,

(a) whether the offence is prosecuted by indictment or punishable on summary conviction, to the following minimum punishment, namely,
(i) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than six hundred dollars,
(ii) for a second offence, to imprisonment for not less than fourteen days, and
(iii) for each subsequent offence, to imprisonment for not less than ninety days;
(b) where the offence is prosecuted by indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; and
(c) where the offence is punishable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

Impaired driving causing bodily harm
(2) Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253(a) and thereby causes bodily harm to any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.
Impaired driving causing death
(3) Every one who commits an offence under paragraph 253(a) and thereby causes the death of any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.
Previous convictions
(4) Where a person is convicted of an offence committed under paragraph 253(a) or (b) or subsection 254(5), that person shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be convicted for a second or subsequent offence, as the case may be, if the person has previously been convicted of

(a) an offence committed under any of those provisions;
(b) an offence under subsection (2) or (3); or
(c) an offence under section 250, 251, 252, 253, 259 or 260 or subsection 258(4) of this Act as this Act read immediately before the coming into force of this subsection.

Conditional discharge

*(5) Notwithstanding subsection 730(1), a court may, instead of convicting a person of an offence committed under section 253, after hearing medical or other evidence, if it considers that the person is in need of curative treatment in relation to his consumption of alcohol or drugs and that it would not be contrary to the public interest, by order direct that the person be discharged under section 730 on the conditions prescribed in a probation order, including a condition respecting the person’s attendance for curative treatment in relation to that consumption of alcohol or drugs.

*[Note: In force in the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Alberta and in the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories, see SI/85-211 and SI/88-24.]

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 255; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 36; R.S., 1985, c. 1 (4th Supp.), s. 18(F); 1995, c. 22, s. 18; 1999, c. 32, s. 3(Preamble); 2000, c. 25, s. 2.


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Section 258 (1997 to 2008)

Proceedings under section 255
258. (1) In any proceedings under subsection 255(1) in respect of an offence committed under section 253 or in any proceedings under subsection 255(2) or (3),

(a) where it is proved that the accused occupied the seat or position ordinarily occupied by a person who operates a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft or any railway equipment or who assists in the operation of an aircraft or of railway equipment, the accused shall be deemed to have had the care or control of the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment, as the case may be, unless the accused establishes that the accused did not occupy that seat or position for the purpose of setting the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment in motion or assisting in the operation of the aircraft or railway equipment, as the case may be;
(b) the result of an analysis of a sample of the breath or blood of the accused (other than a sample taken pursuant to a demand made under subsection 254(3)) or of the urine or other bodily substance of the accused may be admitted in evidence notwithstanding that, before the accused gave the sample, he was not warned that he need not give the sample or that the result of the analysis of the sample might be used in evidence;
(c) where samples of the breath of the accused have been taken pursuant to a demand made under subsection 254(3), if
(i) [Not in force]
(ii) each sample was taken as soon as practicable after the time when the offence was alleged to have been committed and, in the case of the first sample, not later than two hours after that time, with an interval of at least fifteen minutes between the times when the samples were taken,
(iii) each sample was received from the accused directly into an approved container or into an approved instrument operated by a qualified technician, and
(iv) an analysis of each sample was made by means of an approved instrument operated by a qualified technician,

evidence of the results of the analyses so made is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the concentration of alcohol in the blood of the accused at the time when the offence was alleged to have been committed was, where the results of the analyses are the same, the concentration determined by the analyses and, where the results of the analyses are different, the lowest of the concentrations determined by the analyses;

(d) where a sample of the blood of the accused has been taken pursuant to a demand made under subsection 254(3) or otherwise with the consent of the accused or pursuant to a warrant issued under section 256, if
(i) at the time the sample was taken, the person taking the sample took an additional sample of the blood of the accused and one of the samples was retained, to permit an analysis thereof to be made by or on behalf of the accused and, in the case where the accused makes a request within six months from the taking of the samples, one of the samples was ordered to be released pursuant to subsection (4),
(ii) both samples referred to in subparagraph (i) were taken as soon as practicable after the time when the offence was alleged to have been committed and in any event not later than two hours after that time,
(iii) both samples referred to in subparagraph (i) were taken by a qualified medical practitioner or a qualified technician under the direction of a qualified medical practitioner,
(iv) both samples referred to in subparagraph (i) were received from the accused directly into, or placed directly into, approved containers that were subsequently sealed, and
(v) an analysis was made by an analyst of at least one of the samples that was contained in a sealed approved container,

evidence of the result of the analysis is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the concentration of alcohol in the blood of the accused at the time when the offence was alleged to have been committed was the concentration determined by the analysis or, where more than one sample was analyzed and the results of the analyses are the same, the concentration determined by the analyses and, where the results of the analyses are different, the lowest of the concentrations determined by the analyses;

(d.1) where samples of the breath of the accused or a sample of the blood of the accused have been taken as described in paragraph (c) or (d) under the conditions described therein and the results of the analyses show a concentration of alcohol in blood exceeding eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood, evidence of the result of the analyses is, in the absence of evidence tending to show that the concentration of alcohol in the blood of the accused at the time when the offence was alleged to have been committed did not exceed eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood, proof that the concentration of alcohol in the blood of the accused at the time when the offence was alleged to have been committed exceeded eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood;
(e) a certificate of an analyst stating that the analyst has made an analysis of a sample of the blood, urine, breath or other bodily substance of the accused and stating the result of that analysis is evidence of the facts alleged in the certificate without proof of the signature or the official character of the person appearing to have signed the certificate;
(f) a certificate of an analyst stating that the analyst has made an analysis of a sample of an alcohol standard that is identified in the certificate and intended for use with an approved instrument and that the sample of the standard analyzed by the analyst was found to be suitable for use with an approved instrument, is evidence that the alcohol standard so identified is suitable for use with an approved instrument without proof of the signature or the official character of the person appearing to have signed the certificate;
(g) where samples of the breath of the accused have been taken pursuant to a demand made under subsection 254(3), a certificate of a qualified technician stating
(i) that the analysis of each of the samples has been made by means of an approved instrument operated by the technician and ascertained by the technician to be in proper working order by means of an alcohol standard, identified in the certificate, that is suitable for use with an approved instrument,
(ii) the results of the analyses so made, and
(iii) if the samples were taken by the technician,
(A) [Not in force]
(B) the time when and place where each sample and any specimen described in clause (A) was taken, and
(C) that each sample was received from the accused directly into an approved container or into an approved instrument operated by the technician,

is evidence of the facts alleged in the certificate without proof of the signature or the official character of the person appearing to have signed the certificate;

(h) where a sample of the blood of the accused has been taken pursuant to a demand made under subsection 254(3) or otherwise with the consent of the accused or pursuant to a warrant issued under section 256,
(i) a certificate of a qualified medical practitioner stating that
(A) the medical practitioner took the sample and that before the sample was taken he was of the opinion that the taking of blood samples from the accused would not endanger the life or health of the accused and, in the case of a demand made pursuant to a warrant issued pursuant to section 256, that by reason of any physical or mental condition of the accused that resulted from the consumption of alcohol, the accident or any other occurrence related to or resulting from the accident, the accused was unable to consent to the taking of his blood,
(B) at the time the sample was taken, an additional sample of the blood of the accused was taken to permit analysis of one of the samples to be made by or on behalf of the accused,
(C) the time when and place where both samples referred to in clause (B) were taken, and
(D) both samples referred to in clause (B) were received from the accused directly into, or placed directly into, approved containers that were subsequently sealed and that are identified in the certificate,
(ii) a certificate of a qualified medical practitioner stating that the medical practitioner caused the sample to be taken by a qualified technician under his direction and that before the sample was taken the qualified medical practitioner was of the opinion referred to in clause (i)(A), or
(iii) a certificate of a qualified technician stating that the technician took the sample and the facts referred to in clauses (i)(B) to (D)

is evidence of the facts alleged in the certificate without proof of the signature or official character of the person appearing to have signed the certificate; and

(i) a certificate of an analyst stating that the analyst has made an analysis of a sample of the blood of the accused that was contained in a sealed approved container identified in the certificate, the date on which and place where the sample was analyzed and the result of that analysis is evidence of the facts alleged in the certificate without proof of the signature or official character of the person appearing to have signed it.

No obligation to give sample except as required under section 254
(2) No person is required to give a sample of urine or other bodily substance for analysis for the purposes of this section except breath or blood as required under section 254, and evidence that a person failed or refused to give such a sample or that such a sample was not taken is not admissible nor shall such a failure or refusal or the fact that a sample was not taken be the subject of comment by any person in the proceedings.
Evidence of failure to comply with demand
(3) In any proceedings under subsection 255(1) in respect of an offence committed under paragraph 253(a) or in any proceedings under subsection 255(2) or (3), evidence that the accused, without reasonable excuse, failed or refused to comply with a demand made to him by a peace officer under section 254 is admissible and the court may draw an inference therefrom adverse to the accused.
Release of specimen for testing
(4) A judge of a superior court of criminal jurisdiction or a court of criminal jurisdiction shall, on the summary application of the accused made within six months from the day on which samples of the blood of the accused were taken, order the release of one of the samples for the purpose of an examination or analysis thereof, subject to such terms as appear to be necessary or desirable to ensure the safeguarding of the sample and its preservation for use in any proceedings in respect of which it was retained.
Testing blood for presence of drugs
(5) Where a sample of blood of an accused has been taken pursuant to a demand made under subsection 254(3) or otherwise with the consent of the accused or pursuant to a warrant issued under section 256, the sample may be tested for the presence of drugs in the blood of the accused.
Attendance and right to cross-examine
(6) A party against whom a certificate described in paragraph (1)(e), (f), (g), (h) or (i) is produced may, with leave of the court, require the attendance of the qualified medical practitioner, analyst or qualified technician, as the case may be, for the purposes of cross-examination.
Notice of intention to produce certificate
(7) No certificate shall be received in evidence pursuant to paragraph (1)(e), (f), (g), (h) or (i) unless the party intending to produce it has, before the trial, given to the other party reasonable notice of his intention and a copy of the certificate.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 258; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 36, c. 32 (4th Supp.), s. 61; 1992, c. 1, s. 60(F); 1994, c. 44, s. 14(E); 1997, c. 18, s. 10.


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