Mr. T is a hard-working butcher who was enjoying an evening of ice fishing with a group of his friends; a classic Canadian pastime. They’d gone out onto the frozen water on a 4-wheeler and had initially not planned on drinking so they could drive it home. A friend of Mr. T’s, who was visiting from quite far away, surprised the group with a bottle of alcohol to enjoy with their evening activities. Mr. T then drove his 4-wheeler off road to get home and was stopped by police. They allowed him to go into his trailer to deposit his fishing equipment before testing, and while inside and out of the officer’s line of sight, Mr. T acted in a panic: he took several sips of a bottle of whiskey hoping to throw off the sensors of the breath test, and immediately regretted his actions.
Mr. T’s ability to drive was central to his practice as a butcher. Farmers would contact Mr. T in emergencies where livestock needed to be put down and butchered quickly and losing his ability to travel for work would be financially devastating. Naturally, both Mr. T and his wife were terrified. Mr. T was willing to do whatever he had to if it meant avoiding criminal charges that would impact his licence and would be willing to accept a lesser charge of dangerous driving. For Mr. T we had several options we could pursue, so long as he walked away without criminal charges and an impact on his driving.
We had some interesting options for Mr. T’s defence. Most prominently was the time between being stopped by the police and the test; when they allowed him to put his gear away and he secretly drank additional alcohol. His readings on the breath test would have been inaccurate due to the residual alcohol on his breath, and yet at this point he was not operating a motor vehicle.
Another angle we could take was that Mr. T had smoked two cigarettes shortly before his breath test. Fresh cigarette smoke on the breath of the person being tested can skew the results and potentially lead to false positives.
The last issue we could raise was the intention of the police officers. At the time they claimed to be in the area to confirm that people fishing had the proper licences. We wondered if perhaps this was simply a story used by the officers to check if people fishing had been drinking. If we could create doubt in the legitimacy of the officer’s justification for being there we would be in a strong position to make a deal.