Impaired Driving Causing Death

Impaired Driving Causing Death

The offence of operation while impaired causing death is outlined in section 320.14(3) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of operation while impaired causing death when they cause the death of another person while driving or exercising care or control over a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment while their ability to do so is impaired by alcohol or a drug.

A person has also committed the offence where they are found to have, within two hours of driving the motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment and causing someone’s death or causing an injury that will directly lead to someone’s death, a blood or alcohol concentration that is too high.

Examples

Person A drives home from the bar while intoxicated and crashes into person B’s vehicle, killing person B’s passengers.

Person C drives their boat home after partying with their friends and consuming a large amount of alcohol and cocaine and hits person D, who is swimming near a dock, causing person D serious injuries that they eventually die from.

Person E backs into an intersection through a red light, killing several crossing pedestrians. Person C is immediately taken into custody and a blood test taken an hour and a half after the incident reveals person C’s blood alcohol level is more than two times above the legal limit.

Cases

R. v. Byrne, 2021 ONCJ 711

In R. v. Byrne, the accused was convicted of one count of operation while impaired causing death when, after drinking several beers at a bonfire, he drifted across the opposing lane of the highway and struck a tree with so much force that his passenger died on impact and was ejected from the vehicle.

R. v. Ashton, 2021 ONSC 3994

In R. v. Ashton, the accused was convicted of one count of operation while impaired causing death when, after consuming methamphetamine, he crossed into the opposing lane of traffic on the highway and struck the victim’s vehicle head-on, killing her instantly.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Not a Conveyance

Where the person is driving something that is not a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment, they may not have completed the offence of operation while impaired causing death.

No Impairment

Where the person has not consumed enough alcohol to impair their driving ability, they may not have completed the offence of operation while impaired causing death.

Consumed After

Where the person consumed alcohol or drugs after ceasing to operate their motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment and without any expectation that they would need to provide a bodily substance sample, they may not have completed the offence of operation while impaired causing death.

No Death

Where the person does not cause anyone’s death by driving while their ability to do so is impaired by alcohol or a drug, they will not have completed the offence of operation while impaired causing death.

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