Concentration of methamphetamine in accused’s blood was capable of causing impairment

Ontario criminal | Criminal Law | Offences against the person and reputation | Impaired driving causing bodily harm

Accused’s vehicle sharply and suddenly swerved into lane in which complainants’ vehicle was travelling, requiring complainant driver to turn towards ditch and causing vehicle to roll onto roof. Complainant driver and two front seat passengers, as well as child in accused’s vehicle, suffered fractures and other injuries. Prior to accident, police officer encountered accused and his passengers sleeping in vehicle at side of road, but did not witness any signs of impairment. Witnesses noted that accused appeared drunk and officer who responded to accident noted signs of impairment including slow slurred speech, dilated eyes and profuse sweating, among other things. Small baggie containing white residue was recovered from console of accused’s vehicle and was found to contain THC, cocaine and methamphetamine. Drug recognition expert officer was unable to complete tests because accused was sleeping and was in neck brace, but concentration of methamphetamine in accused’s blood was within range that would cause impairment. At time of accident, accused was crystal meth user and pharmacy records indicated he was on methadone maintenance program and was receiving methadone daily, but no methadone was detected in his blood. Defendant admitted he operated motor vehicle and that collision caused bodily harm to complainants. Accused was charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and four counts of impaired operation of motor vehicle by drug causing bodily harm. Accused convicted. It could not be inferred from pharmacy records that accused ingested methadone shortly before accident as there was no direct evidence that he ingested methadone on day of accident and there was no methadone detected in his blood. Concentration of methamphetamine in accused’s blood was capable of causing impairment with respect to his ability to operate motor vehicle, witnesses observed signs of impairment, and accused’s speed and sudden movement into oncoming traffic was consistent with driving patterns observed in persons who ingested methamphetamine. Other possible explanations of accused’s behaviour, such as head injury or shock, lacked evidentiary foundation.

R. v. Hathaway (2018), 2018 CarswellOnt 21697, 2018 ONSC 7713, M.A. Garson J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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