R. v. J.A.S.
R. v. J.A.S.
(Cochrane, P.C. - Impaired driving/Over 80). In 2020 the Alberta Government enacted legislation confirming discretion on police to handle any case where there have reasonable grounds to believe an impaired driving offence has occurred by way of (1) a roadside sanction or (2) a Notice of Administrative Penalty/roadside sanction and a criminal charge. A roadside sanction or "notice of administrative penalty" is different that a Criminal Code charge because it is "administrative" in nature. Since roadside sanctions are administrative penalties, now criminal law penalties, the Government is able to seriously game the system in its favour.
Nothstanding that JAS was alleged to have blow a very low alcohol reading (just 90mg%), the RCMP decided to charge him criminally and issue a roadside sanction. JAS pled "not guilty" to the criminal charge but accepted consequences flowing from the Notice of Administrative Penalty. What was very strange about JAS is that the police actually sought to double penalize him. In 2022, the vast majority of impaired driving cases were dealt with only by roadside sanctions. JAS was cooperative and did not exhibit any meaningful indicia of impairment. At trial, the Crown ultimately did not seek a conviction for impaired driving. It focussed its case on the certificate of analysis showing JAS was barely over the legal limit.
To rely on certificate evidence the Alberta Court of Appeal held that the police and prosecution were to strictly comply with the statutory requirements for the admissibility of a certificate of qualified breath technician. The case relied upon by JAS was R. v. Goldson. In a close, the trial judge held that the requirements set out in Goldson were not adhered to and as such, refused to rely on the certificate of analysis. JAS was found "not guilty".
David Chow defended his first impaired driving case before he was called to the bar as a lawyer -- this was in 1999. Since then, David has successfully defended hundreds of criminal impaired driving cases. Since 2022, David Chow is probably one of the lawyers who has argued the most roadside sanctions cases in the Province of Alberta. Many of David's arguments -- such as the requirement to follow strict procedure during the roadside appeal process -- have been endorsed by the Court of King's Bench and the Court of Appeal of Alberta (see Lausen). If you have been charged with impaired driving or if you have received a roadside sanction, contact a qualified defence lawyer in Alberta.