Drinking And Driving Offenses Essay, Research Paper
Drinking and Driving Offenses
My essay is on “Drinking and Driving Offences”. In my essa y I will tell you the
various kinds of drinking and driving offences, the penalties, and the defences
you can make if you are caught drinking and drivi ng.
Let me tell you about the different offences. There are si x offences in
drinking and driving. They are “driving while impaired”, “Havi ng care and
control of a vehicle while impaired”, “Driving while exceeding 80 m.g.”, “Having
care and control of a vehicle while exceeding 80 m.g.”, “R efusing to give a
breath sample”, and “refusing to submit to a roadside sc reen test.
These are all Criminal Code Offences.
Now lets talk about the penalties of drinking and driving. The sentence for
“refusing to give a breath sample” is usually higher than either of the
“exceeding 80 m.g.” offences. Consequently it is us ually easier in the long run
for you to give a breath sample if asked. If, for example you are convicted of
“Refusing ato give a breath sample” f or the first time, but was earlier
convicted of “Driving while impaired”, your conviction for “Refusing” will count
as a second conviction, not a first, and will receive the stiffer penalty for
For the first offence here is the penalty and the defences you can make. Driving
a vehicle while your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs is one of
the offences. Evidence of your condition can be used to convict you. This can
include evidence of your general conduct , speech, ability to walk a straight
line or pick up objects. The penalty o f the first offences is a fine of $50.00
to $2000.00 and/or imprisonment of up to six months, and automatic suspension of
licence for 3 months. The second offence penalty is imprisonment for 14 days to
1 year and automati c suspen-sion of licence for 6 months. The third offence
penalty is impris onment for 3 months to 2 years (or more) and automatic
suspension of lice nce for six months. These penalties are the same for the
following offenc es.
“Having Care and Control of a Motor Vehicle while Impaired” is another offence.
Having care and control of a vehicle does not require that you are driving it.
Occupying the driver’s seat, even if you did not have the keys, is sufficient.
Walking towards the car with the keys could be suffi-cient. Some defences are
you were not impaired, or you did not hav e care and control because you were
not in the driver’s seat, did not have th e keys, etc. It is not a defence that
you registered below 80 m.g. on the breath-ayzer test. Having care and control
depends on all circumstances.
“Driving While Exceeding 80 m.g. is the next offence. Driving a vehicle, having
consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the propo rtion of alcohol in your
blood exceeds 80 miligrams of alcohol in 100 mi lilitres of blood. Some defences
are the test was administered improperly, or the breathalyzer machine was not
“Having Care and control of a Motor Vehicle while Exceedin g 80 m.g.” is the
next offence I will talk about. This offence means having care and control of a
vehicle whether it is in motion or not, having consum ed alcohol in such a
quantity that the proportion of alcohol in your blood ex ceeds 80 miligrams of
alcohol in 100 mililitres of blood. The defences are the test was administered
improperly, or the breathalyzer machine was not f unctioning properly. To defend
against breathalyzer evidence you must unders tand how the test should be
administered. The proper procedure for a breat halyzer test is as follows.
Warming up the machine until the thermometer registers 50 degrees centigrade.
This should take at least 10 minutes. The machine should then be turned to zero
(by using the “adjust zero control”) and a comparison ampoulel (of normal air)
inserted. if the metre remains at zero, the test can proceed. An ampoule with a
standard solution is then inserted. If the metre reads high or low by more than .
02% on two successive tests, the machine should not be used. If the trial is
valid, the machin e should be flushed with room air and the pointer set at start.
You will t hen be asked to provide two breath samples, about fifteen minutes
apart. Normally they will take the result of the lowest result and use it as
evide nce against you.
“Refusing to Give a Breath Sample” means refusing without a reasonable excuse to
give a sample or refusing without a reasonabl e excuse to accompany a polic
officer, when demanded by the police officer. Before demanding by the police
officer, he must have reasonable and proba ble grounds to believe that you are
committing or at any time in the p receeding two hours have committed, one of
the offences of driving or having care and control of a vehicle while impaired
or while having a blood alcoho l level in excess of 80 m.g. You can refuse to
give a breath sample until you have communicated in private with your lawyer
even if this takes you be yond the two hour period, unless it is shown that your
request for a lawyer was not genuine and merely to delay the testing. The test
can be done after the two hour period, but a technician must testify in court as
to what your blood alcohol would have been in the two hour period. You cannot
refuse to accom-pany the officer until you see your lawyer. You can argue that
the officer didn’t have reasonable and probable grounds to suspect you, but this
however depends on the circumstances.
“Refusing to submit to a Roadside Screening Test” is the last offence. When you
commit this offence you are refusing without reasonable excuse to give a breath
sample for a roadside screening device, or refusing without reasonable excuse to
accompany a police officer for the purposes of giving such a sample, when
demanded by an officer. Before the officer demands a breathalyzer he must
reasonably suspect that you have alcohol in your blood.
The maximum penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm to someone is up
to 10 years in prison and up to a 10 year prohabition from driving. The maximum
penalties for impaired driving causing death is up to 14 years and a 10 year
prohabition from driving. The maximum penalty for manslaughter and criminal
negligence causing death is up to life in prison and up to a lifetime
prohabition from driving.
I think that these penalties for all the drinking and driving offences are very
appropriate, but I think impaired driving causing death should be a lifetime
imprisonment. Also if a person is impaired a nd causes bodily harm to some one
they should have their licence suspended from him for 20 years instead of 10
Highway Traffic Law, (Copyright January 1986: Community Legal Education Ontario)
Government Document, Canada Law Reform Commision Report on Investigative Tests:
Aclohol, Drugs, and Driving Offences (1983).
Erwin,Richard E. M.Bender ,Defence of Drunk Driving Cases, Criminal Civil
(Albany 1986) p.79-81
Purich, Donald John, Drinking and Driving:What To Do If Your Caught
(International Self Counsel Pr. 1978) p.22-25
Verticle File at Hill Crest Library, Drinking and Driving-Offences ands
penalties:A Summary (1988) p.2
Verticle File at Hill Crest Liabrary, Criminal Code-Part 6 (1989), section 3,
Verticle File at Hill Crest Library, HighWay Trafic (1989), section 26