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Man acquitted of drunk driving charges

A recent ruling in Ontario has seen a man go free after being charged with driving under the influence. The man was arrested in 2014 after a car accident and was hit with drunk driving charges by police. However, the charges were dropped in a recent trial. Here in Alberta, requirements for drunk driving charges under the law can influence cases in a similar way. 

In September of 2014, the man and his then-girlfriend were driving home from a social engagement when the man reportedly rear-ended a van, causing damage to both vehicles but no injuries. When police arrived on the scene at approximately 11:15, the officer said she detected the odor of alcohol on the man and had intended to initiate a roadside sobriety test. However, the man and his girlfriend were in the midst of an argument and the officer said she was concerned there may be domestic violence issues at play as well. 

As a result, she delayed the sobriety test for 10 minutes. The man failed the test and was taken to a nearby police station where his blood was tested. While the test came back positive for alcohol over the legal limit, an Ontario court ruled the officer had allowed too much time to elapse between the arrest and the blood test for the results to be admissible in court. As a result, the charges were dropped. 

While Alberta residents likely agree that driving under the influence is a poor decision and should be treated as a crime, there are a number of factors that come into play when drunk driving charges are filed. Depending on how alcohol is metabolized by an individual, it can take time for the effects of intoxication to set in. As such, if a blood test taken much later returns a high blood alcohol content, this could be the result of the alcohol metabolizing during that time, suggesting the driver may not have been drunk at the time of the accident. In this way, drunk driving charges can be reduced or even dropped.

Source:, "Man acquitted of drunk driving-related charge over delay in roadside test", Michelle McQuigge, March 6, 2017

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