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CASE DETAILS

Charge(s): Operation of a Motor Vehicle with BAC Over 80
Location: Belleville, Ontario
Our Client(s): Mr. M
Complainant(s): Belleville Police Service
Year: 2020
Lawyer: Dan Lemaire
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Please Note: Past results not predictive of future results.

The Background

An officer of the Belleville police department received the call just after 9:00 p.m. A citizen had phoned Dispatch to report a red pickup track driving erratically. Within minutes the officer was in the area searching for the red pickup truck with the corresponding licence plate. He spotted such a truck parked in a driveway with two men, one of which was Mr. M, standing near their apartment door.

When the officer approached, Mr. M explained that they had been outside smoking for a while but were done for the night. Smelling alcohol on Mr. M’s breath and suspecting he had been recently driving the truck, the officer arrested Mr. M. and charged him with operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level over 80.

Mr. M was read his right to counsel, connected with duty counsel, and held at the police station while he gave breath samples. Around 1:00 a.m. Mr. M. was released on a Promise To Appear.

The Goals

Mr. M was a young man and had his entire life ahead of him. A conviction for Over 80 on his criminal record could massively impact his future. His ability to drive would be severely limited and his employment prospects could be impacted. Mr. Lemaire’s goal for Mr. M’s case was to have the charges dropped.

The Strategy

The event of Mr. M’s arrest was filled with procedural errors and violations of Mr. M.’s rights under the Charter. Proving these errors and violations before a judge would limit the Crown’s available evidence and could lead the Crown to concede the case as not solid enough to proceed.

Specifically, Mr. Lemaire focused on the arrest itself, as the officer lacked reasonable grounds for a warrantless search of Mr. M’s breath and lacked reasonable grounds to arrest Mr. M. There were further issues with Mr. M’s right to contact counsel, as his counsel was unable to be reached at the time of his arrest. Lastly, once at the station there were gaps in the video recordings of Mr. M in his cell, creating massive gaps in the Crown’s evidence. Mr. Lemaire cross-examined the officer before the judge, revealing the officer’s lack of certainty that Mr. M had, in fact, been operating a motor vehicle shortly before the officer arrived.

The Results

Before the judge, following the cross-examination of the officer and the revelation that the video footage was incomplete, the Crown admitted that the case was not strong enough to satisfy the “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden. The judge dismissed both charges, gave a speech to Mr. M about the danger of overusing alcohol, and Mr. M was free to move on with his young life without a criminal record.

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