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CASE DETAILS

Charge(s): Refusing a breath sample
Location: Cobourg, Ontario
Our Client(s): Mr. S
Year: 2022
Lawyer/Paralegal: Tarinpal Dhaliwal
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Please Note: Past results not predictive of future results.

The Background

Mr. S was a newcomer to Canada who was in the process of becoming a lawyer in Canada. He had a history of anxiety and had recently been admitted into the emergency hospital ward for this issue, as well as having been referred to a psychiatrist and prescribed medication for his issue. His legal aspirations were put in jeopardy, though, when he was pulled over after a traffic stop and investigated for a DUI.

The officer made a demand for our client to provide a breath sample, which he refused. He was arrested and his vehicle was searched, finding an empty wine bottle below the driver’s seat. The Criminal Code makes it an offence to refuse a demand to provide a breath sample where the driver knows that a demand has been made by an officer, absent a reasonable excuse for refusal. Our client was charged with refusing a breath sample.

The Goals

Because of the client’s legal aspirations, it was important to him that the situation be resolved without appearing on his criminal record. The goal was to negotiate a non-criminal disposition with the Crown.

The Strategy

The strategy to have the Crown agree to a non-criminal resolution to the matter was to raise the defence that the client had a reasonable excuse to refuse the breath sample. Mr. Dhaliwal wrote a lengthy and detailed letter to the Crown, noting that the court had previously accepted similar anxiety-related issues as constituting a reasonable excuse to refuse a breath sample, and argued that this defence would likely be successful if the case were to go to trial.

In his letter, Mr. Dhaliwal further highlighted the potential Charter violations including an unreasonable search and a violation of our client’s right to counsel during the arrest.

The Results

After multiple negotiations and a detailed letter to the senior Crown, the result of the negotiations was a success. The client was able to plead to the lesser charge of careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act, which is not a criminal offence and does not appear on a criminal record. The criminal charges were withdrawn.

Mr. S was extremely happy and relieved at the good news. This was particularly important given his aspirations to become a lawyer in Canada. He was glad to have kept his criminal record clear.

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