Picture this scenario: You're a hard-working person. You make good choices in life and you have plenty to show for your prudence and diligence: a good home, a family and a career. Life is going great. Until suddenly, it isn't. You've been in a car accident.
The police are now saying it's your fault. Someone has been hurt, officers are asking questions, and before you know it, you're at a police station facing charges of impaired driving causing bodily harm. It may feel as if life is unravelling right before your eyes.
Federal impaired driving laws examined
There are six federal laws covering accidents allegedly caused by an impaired driver in which another person suffers an injury or is killed. These are:
- Impaired driving causing bodily harm
- Driving with a blood alcohol count greater than .08 percent and causing bodily harm
- Failing to provide a sample or participate in testing and causing bodily harm
- The same three above, but causing death instead of causing bodily harm
The distinction between the first two laws is important. A judge can convict a person despite a blood alcohol level below the legal limit, if he or she is convinced the driver was impaired, perhaps by another substance.
In relation to the second law, whether applied to bodily harm or death, arguing that alcohol impairment did not factor into the accident is moot. In a sense, the charge is for two separate offences: driving with an illegal blood alcohol level and hurting or killing another person in a motor vehicle accident.
While refusing to provide a sample to a police officer may seem equivalent to exercising the right to remain silent, opting to not give a urine, breath, blood or saliva sample to an officer when demanded is a crime under the Criminal Code. The same goes for refusing to participate in standard field sobriety testing or in a drug recognition evaluation.
Don't let allegations of impaired driving take everything away from you
The accident happened and the police have finished processing you. It's time to start thinking about what you should do. Your next move is a crucial one.
The mere accusation of an impaired driving charge can severely impact your life. The media may pick up the story, which could compromise both your personal and professional relationships. A conviction could deprive you of your driving privileges, saddle you with cumbersome driving restrictions and leave you with a lifelong criminal record.
Making a solid legal defence demands great skill and tenacity to scour factual, technical and legal details of the accident, the arrest and the charges. If you've been charged, reach out for help. It could be the key to minimizing the effects of an extremely serious circumstance.