SUMMARY: Man charged with impaired driving and refusal to provide a breath sample in Grande Prairie, Alberta
OFFENCE: Impaired Driving
RESULT: Not guilty
DEFENCE LAWYER: Sean Fagan
Regina v. X.X. – Dec 2020
Charges: Impaired Driving and Refusal to provide a breath sample
Most police forces assign a group of officers to patrol the streets for impaired drivers in the late evening hours and early morning hours of Friday and Saturday nights, as well as holidays. It is these officers’ duty to keep the streets safe and remove impaired drivers from the roads and protect the community. These officers will often stake out near bars or restaurants near closing time, and they will pull over vehicles leaving these locations to check for impaired drivers, which they have every right to do, regardless of whether or not they observe any adverse driving behaviour.
In this case, it was members of the Grande Prairie division of the RCMP who were acting as part of the Safe City Night shift in the early morning hours in Grande Prairie, Alberta. As the officers were driving southbound on 108 street and were stopped at a red light at approximately 108 street and 92 Ave, they noted a vehicle had stopped in the intersection, past the white line. The officers noted the vehicle was driving very slowly, drifting left to right, and hitting the curb. The light was red at the intersection of 84 Ave and 108 St, and when the vehicle attempted to stop, it pulled right and appeared to go up onto the curb/crosswalk at the light.
The officers initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle when the light turned green, as they had serious concerns about how the vehicle was being operated. The officer approached the driver’s side door with her ASD (“approved screening device”) to conduct a MAS (“mandatory alcohol screening”) demand. Police officers no longer need grounds to demand a sample of a driver’s breath at roadside. The officer noted that X.X.’s mannerisms were very slow, and he was slurring his words.
In response to the officer’s demand for a sample of his breath, X.X. indicated that he was going to agree to provide a sample. X.X. made seven attempts at providing a sample of his breath, with none of the attempts recording a sufficient sample. The officer had a strong suspicion that X.X. was not giving it the honest college try, and instead, was trying to evade providing a sample of his breath by not sealing his lips and not blowing a proper manner. Ultimately, the officer gave him one last try, which again, X.X. failed to provide a valid sample. So, the officer arrested X.X. for failure to provide a breath sample, which carries with it, the same penalties as impaired driving itself. X.X.’s driver’s license was immediately suspended.
Due to the nature of X.X.’s profession, he needed to avoid a criminal conviction, for risk of losing his career. So, he sought out an experienced defence lawyer.
Often, people choose a criminal lawyer from their hometown. What people don’t realize is that Canadian Criminal law is the same across all towns, cities, and provinces. This opens up the potential for hiring a criminal lawyer from any region you wish. Often, there is little additional cost associated with hiring an out of town lawyer.
X.X. retained Sean Fagan to defend his Grande Prairie criminal charges of impaired driving and failure to comply with a breath demand. The matter was scheduled for trial, and on trial day, Sean Fagan was successful at cross examining the primary investigating officer, so as to destroy the Crown’s case. The judge returned a verdict of not guilty on both charges. This saved X.X. a criminal conviction, and the ancillary consequences that a conviction would carry.