There are literally hundreds of ways to win an impaired driving case. When charged with impaired driving in Ontario, a person merely needs to convince a judge that there is a 'reasonable doubt' that they were impaired. The burden or onus is always on the prosecutor to prove impairment beyond a reasonable doubt. Our goal throughout the trial is to demonstrate or create a reasonable doubt in the judge’s mind.
There are many ways that this can be accomplished. For example, by vigorously cross-examining and confronting the police officer(s) that they are mistaken, inconsistent and exaggerating etc. We will highlight and demonstrate that bad driving such as weaving or straddling the line could be easily explained as being within the range of the driving behavior of a sober driver. For example, an accident does not necessarily tend to prove anything regarding whether a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol. Also, some accidents can cause concussion symptoms which perfectly mimic impaired driving symptoms. In fact, many cases involving motor vehicle accidents are won this way.
Slurring and mumbling can be caused by a speech impediment (an individual may typically speak in such a manner), extreme fatigue or even the normal nervousness experienced by a driver who has been detained by a police officer. The arresting officer typically is not aware of how a client normally speaks and has to make certain assumptions in stating that the client was ‘slurring’ or ‘mumbling’. This could be their normal manner of speaking.
With over 70 years of combined criminal trial experience, the DUI lawyers and OVI attorneys at the Kruse Law Firm have defended Impaired Charge Ontario Cases throughout the province.
Police officers will normally testify that they detected symptoms of impairment on a person such as the smell of alcohol. An odor of alcohol by itself is essentially meaningless-it only shows that a person has consumed alcohol. Similarly, bloodshot eyes could be caused by various other reasons which are unrelated to consuming alcohol. There may also be plausible explanations for balance and coordination problems. For example, some individuals may be unsteady because of nervousness in the presence of uniformed police officers. There are many other plausible explanations for impaired driving symptoms.
An accused can also call his own defence witnesses who will testify that the accused was sober and not impaired before, during or after the time of driving. This defence evidence could create a reasonable doubt. It could also tend to cast doubt on the credibility and reliability of the testimony of the police officers. Assuming a witness testifies that the accused was sober and not impaired by alcohol at the time of driving, a judge may be hard pressed to find reasons to completely reject this person’s testimony. It is often not difficult to create a reasonable doubt in this regard.
Both a layperson and a police officer are entitled to provide their opinion as to whether an accused’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired at the time he or she drove the motor vehicle. A police officer’s opinion is not entitled to any greater weight than a civilian witness.
Many police forces now videotape the breath testing procedure and/or booking procedure at the police station. It is essential that a defence lawyer order the videotapes as part of the disclosure process. Kruse Law Firm is often able to use the videotape to our advantage to show our client was sober at the time of driving because they were not demonstrating any balance, coordination or speech problems relatively shortly after the time of driving. It may be difficult to accept a police officer’s testimony who says that a person was slurring or had difficulty walking when the videotape clearly demonstrates otherwise.