City: Oshawa, Ontario
Our Client: Mr. G.
Complainant: Durham Regional Police Service
Charge(s): Care or Control of a Motor Vehicle After Having Consumed Alcohol in Such a Quantity That the Concentration Thereof in his Blood Exceeded 80 mg in 100 Millilitres of Blood
Lawyer: Edmund Chan, B.A., J.D
Date of Acquittal: July 7, 2015
Background: In the very early, dark hours of a winter’s morning, a white Toyota crashed into a hydro pole, then into a mattress and box spring that had been left on the curb, and then a second hydro pole. Debris was scattered all over the road and the lawns of the nearby houses. The mattress was halfway up a tree. Another driver witnessed the Toyota hit and wrap around the second hydro pole. An ambulance that happened to be passing moments afterwards stopped. That ambulance was already carrying a patient to hospital so the driver called for, and was sent, another ambulance. Police arrived while paramedics and fire services were extracting the unconscious driver from the mangled vehicle. The second ambulance transported this injured driver to hospital. At the hospital, blood was drawn from a patient identified by the hospital as Mr. G. The police obtained blood alcohol concentration readings from a blood sample that they attributed to Mr. G., that were close to 155 mg in 100 millilitres of blood – nearly twice the amount of the legal limit of 80 mg.
Goal: Mr. G. needed to avoid all the repercussions of the criminal record that would flow from a conviction of the Over 80 offence. In particular, he was concerned that the insurance on his $40,000 vehicle which was demolished, but on which he was still making payments, would be voided were he convicted of this offence.
Strategy: Our strategy was two-pronged. We would challenge the blood sample evidence in terms of the continuity of the sample from a person identified by the hospital as Mr. G., to the point of analysis by a hospital laboratory technician. We would additionally bring into question the identity of the driver of the Toyota, purported to be Mr. G. The Crown had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. G. had care or control of the Toyota when it crashed on the night in question. We had to raise a reasonable doubt as to “identity.”
Verdict: The judge found that he could accept the continuity of the blood sample from Mr. G. to the technician who analyzed it, and therefore find that Mr. G.’s blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit at the time in question. However, despite what the judge called “interesting coincidences” in the case, we were able to raise a reasonable doubt as to the identity of the driver of the crashed Toyota, so that the judge found that the Crown could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. G. before the court, had anything to do with the Toyota that crashed into the two hydro poles and the mattress that winter’s morning. Mr. G. was therefore acquitted of the charge.