I am going to be talking to you today about how the COVID-19 has effected Stream A Ignition Interlock cases in Ontario. That is, for impaired driving cases. First of all, let me tell you what STREAM A means, you may already know but I will briefly discuss it. So when a person is charged with impaired by alcohol or blowing over the legal limit, of eighty milligrams of alcohol on one hundred milliliters of blood or refusing to provide a breath sample in Ontario. They have the right to plead guilty at a relatively early opportunity and get advantage of being able to drive with the ignition interlock on their car. That’s a device you blow into each time, you start the car. It might go off in regular intervals, so can get back driving. And the way the program works is this. You would calculate ninety days from the date of your arrest. You have to plead guilty within those ninety days to qualify for Stream A, so it’s a very clear limitation period. And by the way, practically, the limitation is eighty-nine period, days. So you really want to mark down eighty-nine days. Even though the Ministry’s website says ninety, we have found that practically it’s eighty-nine. So what happens this summer, as you to a certain extent the court system was paused, trials weren’t going on, only urgent guilty pleas were being considered. The definition of urgent I won’t ‘get into it, but an impaired driving cases were considered urgent because of this limitation period. Because the MTO or the courts, if someone wanted to take advantage of the interlock, they encourage that. So we were able to do virtual guilty pleas by zoom, by audio teleconference, and get a person back driving. That is a person who didn’t get a great deal. By the way, there’s a lot of great deals being offered this summer so, I want to mentioned that to you as well. Charges are being withdrawn, this summer because of the COVID pandemic, and careless driving. But for those who wanted STREAM A, we wanted to be able to do that. So about half way through the pause this summer, I think it was on May fourteenth actually, the Ministry of Transport said “look, this is unfair that the limitation period, so we are going to suspended it, we are going to put it to two hundred and eighty three days”, and the reason for that is a lot of self-represented accused, you could not just plead guilty , a lot of courts were not letting a self-represented accused do things virtually. So they are going “God, I can’t get my Stream A,” but what has been the effect of this? Now, that the court system’s been re-opened on July sixth, in a limited way, by the way, a limited number of courtrooms have been opened for trials. They are still doing virtual guilty pleas, so STREAM A is no longer considered to be urgent. But most of our clients who want to take advantage of STREAM A still want to get back to driving as quickly as possible, the quicker you plead guilty, the quicker you get back driving. So what happens is if you plead guilty today, you can get back driving with that interlock, ninety days from today. So it’s very important to take advantage of this. If you don’t hire a lawyer, you are not going to be able qualify, and by the way, you might be offered a great deal as well. Those are happening right now because of the perception of delay. The courts have been paused. There’s only a limited number of court rooms. And of course for those who want a trial, we can always proceed with trial. I can tell you this, I was amazed at the number of cases we had this summer, that were scheduled for trial, where the Crowns actually offered a careless driving or withdrawal the charges. And normally we don’t get those type of deals unless we get a completely, obviously, winning case. On a fifty-fifty case, the crown normally doesn’t offer those deals, they are now, there are even offering them on less than fifty-fifty cases. So, you should hire a lawyer right now don’t delay.

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