Defending clients against charges of impaired driving

The sheer numbers of individuals that are charged with impaired driving on an annual basis is staggering. While many people never think that they will be charged with impaired driving offences, it happens to Canadians from almost all demographics. Unfortunately, this can have significant consequences.

If convicted of an impaired driving charge, the loss of driving privileges severely impacts an individual's livelihood. An impaired driving conviction will have grave consequences pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada and the Traffic Safety Act of Alberta. Michel Fontaine strongly believes that everybody charged with an impaired driving offence must have an experienced, hard working and well respected criminal lawyer to strategically advance all possible impaired defences available. Michel Fontaine has successfully represented many individuals facing impaired driving offences.

When can the police request a roadside breath test and a breathalyzer?

Before instructing a driver to provide a roadside breath test, the police must possess a reasonable suspicion that a person has alcohol in their body. A reasonable suspicion that a person has alcohol in their body generally arises by a smell of alcohol on a person’s breath or an admission of alcohol consumption. In some circumstances, Police may also acquire the necessary reasonable suspicion with observations of your physical movements, driving pattern, slurred speech, or smell of alcohol from within the motor vehicle.

Although you are not obligated to respond to queries by the police, failure to do so may lead the police to suspect you have consumed alcohol, and they will most likely demand that you provide a roadside breath screening sample. You do not have the right to consult a lawyer before performing the roadside breath test. However, you do have the legal right to consult a lawyer before performing the breathalyzer test at the police station. Refusing to provide a breath sample on the roadside screening device or the intoxilyzer machine at the police station can result in a charge of refusing to provide a sample pursuant to s. 254(5) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Many individuals are charged with this offence on the basis that they believe they are better off being charged with this offence as opposed to an impaired driving offence. that is simply not the case. if convicted of refusing to provide a breath sample, you WILL face the same consequences as an impaired driving conviction.

Michel Fontaine has successfully defended many charged with refusal to provide a sample of their breath on either the road side screening device or the intoxilyzer machine on the basis of advancing either a reasonable excuse or alternatively failure by the crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused willfully intended to provide a sample of their breath.

Here is what could happen if you are convicted of impaired driving by alcohol or drug and or refusal to provide a sample of breath or bodily substance:

Pursuant to s.253. (1) 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,

  • while the person’s ability to operate the vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment is impaired by alcohol or a drug; or
  • 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.

Pursuant to s. 254(5) Every commits an offence who, without reasonable excuse, fails or refuses to comply with a demand made by police office to provide a sample in the roadside screening device or the intoxilyzer.

The punishment for these offences is set out in Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada:

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,

  • whether the offence is prosecuted by indictment or punishable on summary conviction, to the following minimum punishment, namely,
  • where the offence is prosecuted by indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; and
  • if the offence is punishable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months.
  • for a first offence, a fine of not less than $1,000,
  • for a second offence, to imprisonment for not less than 30 days, and
  • for each subsequent offence, to imprisonment of no less than 120 days;

Committed to helping clients charged with impaired driving

If you were arrested for impaired driving, it is essential to have a qualified criminal defence lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to conduct a successful defence. If you are dependent on your driver’s license for your livelihood, Michel Fontaine will ensure that he utilizes every reasonable defence to avoid the loss of your driver’s license. Michel Fontaine is very knowledgeable about the impaired driving laws. He will analyze every aspect of your case — from the initial traffic stop by police, including all their obligations under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to any other relevant defence.

Michel Fontaine has taken on clients from all over Alberta and in the past, has conducted many successful impaired trials in the following communities:

  • Edmonton and Surrounding Area
  • Ft. McMurray
  • Grande Prairie
  • Peace River
  • Bonnyville
  • Cold Lake
  • Lloydminster
  • Southern Alberta

To schedule a consultation, call Michel G. Fontaine at 780-424-8600 today or contact me online.