A recent Justice Canada tweet got a lot of attention from many a DUI lawyer, as the tweet, now deleted, suggested that people could be charged with drunk driving, even after 2 hours have passed from the last driving trip.
The key issue is the part of the tweet that notes that it’s against the law to have blood alcohol levels above the legal limit within two hours of driving.
A Vancouver-based criminal defense and DUI lawyer, Paul Doroshenko, notes that the tweet means that law enforcement can charge anyone who drinks two hours after driving, even if they drove completely sober.
Doroshenko describes it as a big fear, and something that people are deeply concerned about. The Justice said that they’d never do that, but here’s a tweet suggesting that they’d do exactly that. He says that the tweet says a lot about what the government has in mind for the recently implemented drunk-driving laws, which were ushered in 2018.
Justice Canada, however, followed up their deleted tweet with a correction, saying that it’s not actually possible for law enforcement to legally come into someone’s home, two hours after a drive, then ask for a breath sample.
The department explains that, under the old laws, drivers could argue that they couldn’t be slapped with an “over 80 mg” charge if they drove immediately after their drinks, due to the delay alcohol has before kicking in. The new laws, however, account for this, and drivers will find themselves in need of a DUI lawyer if they have blood alcohol at or over 80 mg within 2 hours of having driven.
The new laws are meant to stop people from using the ‘intervening drink’ defense, which says that getting out of a car, then drinking, is the reason for someone’s high blood alcohol content. The law, it notes, does allow for limited exceptions, like when a driver drinks after driving, and wasn’t really expecting the need to have to provide a breath sample, noting that any charges can only be pressed if:
- The vehicle was stopped lawfully;
- The driver must actually be driving, caring for, and controlling the vehicle, and;
- The police officer has the device on hand.