Given accused’s blood alcohol level, expert evidence alone was sufficient to establish impairment

Criminal Law - Offences Against the Person and Reputation - Impaired Driving Causing Death

Accused’s pick-up truck veered off road, crashed into embankment and rolled over. Passenger, who was not wearing seatbelt, was ejected from vehicle and it landed on top of him, killing him. Police officers did not observe signs of impairment, but accused told them he had consumed six beers. Accused made statements to other civilian witnesses and emergency personnel that indicated he had been drinking. Accused’s blood alcohol level at time of testing was 136 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood and expert determined accused’s blood alcohol level at time of driving would have been 136 to 171 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood or 129 to 164 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. Accused was charged with impaired driving causing death and other offences. Accused convicted. Given accused’s blood alcohol level, expert evidence alone was sufficient to establish impairment. Nature of driving, being that vehicle left straight roadway for no apparent reason, pointed strongly towards impairment. Accused made various utterances that suggested he had been drinking. Accused had no memory of events leading up to accident, which was consistent with impairment. There was no reason to question accused’s impairment at time of offence. Accused’s utterances were consistent with him drinking during course of evening and nothing suggested he drank after accident. As accident was caused by accused’s impairment, and passenger’s death was related to accident, causation was established. That passenger was not wearing seatbelt was type of risk in play when one chose to drive while impaired.

R. v. Poisson (2019), 2019 CarswellOnt 4056, 2019 ONSC 1462, C.F. de Sa J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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