DRIVING OVER 80
RGZLegal Impaired Not Over 80
In Ontario, individuals can be charged with impaired driving if they are pulled over for a traffic stop and they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They can also be charged with an “over .80” violation if there blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit.
Many drivers are charged with both of these offenses in a single circumstance. However, it is possible to be charged with driving while impaired and not “over .80”.
But what does this actually mean? Are you still considered to be impaired if you submit a breath sample via a Breathalyzer machine and your blood alcohol content is below the limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood?
Individuals who find themselves in the situation of being charged with simply impaired driving are in a unique situation. Police officers believed that they had “reasonable and probable grounds” to pull you over for driving while impaired, but your breath sample remained under the legal limit.
In many cases, what police might believe to be an individual acting in an impaired manner can actually be quite an exaggeration.
This type of circumstance usually involves a considerable amount of gray area. Individuals are believed to be impaired if their ability to drive has been altered in any way by the presence of even the slightest amount of alcohol in their system.
Proving impairment can a very difficult feat for police officers and prosecutors. Officers must be able to cite multiple signs of impairment such as glassy eyes, the presence of a distinct smell of alcohol, or just bad driving in general.
The simple reality is that there are many other factors that can explain the presence of these kinds of signs. Just smelling the presence of alcohol cannot be proof of impaired driving, as the smell could be from a passenger or still lingering from a drink that was consumed much earlier in the night. Glassy eyes can also be the result of simple fatigue or the common cold. Even the most careful and experienced drivers can find themselves in an accident. Some individuals are simply just bad drivers.
Contacting a professional criminal defense lawyer that has experience handling driving while impaired offenses should be your first step if you find yourself charged with an impaired driving offense.
If your breath sample remained under the legal limit of .80 and, subsequently, you were not charged with an “over .80” offense, you need assistance to review your case.
Consulting with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible will allow you to explore the possibility of whether or not the signs of impairment are actually enough for a conviction.