section 255.1

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Evidence of a blood alcohol concentration over 160mg/100ml in cases of motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment offenses is considered aggravating circumstances.

SECTION WORDING

255.1 Without limiting the generality of section 718.2, where a court imposes a sentence for an offence committed under this Act by means of a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft or of railway equipment, evidence that the concentration of alcohol in the blood of the offender at the time when the offence was committed exceeded one hundred and sixty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood shall be deemed to be aggravating circumstances relating to the offence that the court shall consider under paragraph 718.2(a).

EXPLANATION

Section 255.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada provides guidance for courts in sentencing individuals who have committed an offence under the Act while operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment. Specifically, this section deems evidence of a blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood as an aggravating circumstance that the court must consider when imposing a sentence. The inclusion of this provision recognizes the dangers of impaired driving and aims to deter individuals from operating these types of vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. By imposing a mandatory consideration of BAC as an aggravating circumstance, the section also seeks to ensure consistency in sentencing for these offences. It is important to note that this provision does not impose a mandatory minimum sentence for individuals convicted of an offence under the Act while under the influence. Rather, it requires the court to consider the BAC level in conjunction with other relevant factors when determining an appropriate sentence. Overall, section 255.1 serves to reinforce the seriousness of impaired driving offences and the potential harm that can result from these actions. By mandating the consideration of BAC as an aggravating circumstance, the section aims to promote public safety and discourage individuals from engaging in this dangerous behaviour.

COMMENTARY

Section 255.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a provision that specifically pertains to offences that are committed while driving a motor vehicle, vessel, or airplane or railway equipment. According to this section, if an individual commits an offence under this Act while driving any of the aforementioned vehicles, and the concentration of alcohol in their blood at the time was more than 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (or exceeds 80 mg/100 ml one hour after driving), then the court will consider it to be an aggravating circumstance in sentencing, under paragraph 718.2(a). The inclusion of this provision is an indication of the serious consequences of impaired driving under Canadian law. Intoxicated drivers are a significant threat to public safety, and when they place themselves and others at risk, Canada's justice system must be given enough tools to ensure they are held accountable. Impaired driving has been a significant problem and has caused considerable harm in Canada. Every day, on average, four Canadians are killed and more than 175 are seriously injured in impaired driving crashes, and it accounts for approximately 30% of all road fatalities. While the federal government has taken several steps to address the ongoing challenges posed by drunk or drugged driving, this amendment is directed towards ensuring that impaired drivers who are caught and prosecuted receive an appropriate sentence. In stating that a BAC level that exceeded the legal limit at the time of the offence constitutes an aggravating circumstance, the provision attempts to increase the severity of punishment for offenders found guilty of impaired driving. The courts retain discretion in sentencing, and an aggravating factor does not necessarily mean the offender will face a maximum penalty. The court can consider other factors, such as the offender's criminal history, their level of responsibility, and their degree of remorse or rehabilitation. However, the inclusion of this specific aggravating factor makes it clear that drunk or drugged driving is a serious offence, and that it will be punished harshly. It is essential to regard this amendment as a positive development in Canada's criminal justice system, particularly since it serves as an additional deterrent. In addition to potential offenders being aware of the grave risks of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, knowing that high alcohol levels can be considered to be an aggravated circumstance in sentencing, creates additional fear of legal consequences for offenders. In conclusion, Section 255.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada is an amendment that strengthens the criminal justice system's ability to appropriately punish offenders of impaired driving. It demonstrates that the Canadian government takes the problem of impaired driving seriously, and that it will not hesitate to use every tool at its disposal to ensure public safety. It is also a signal to potential offenders that they must take responsibility for their actions, and that the risks and consequences of criminal liability can ruin their lives and the lives of others.

STRATEGY

Section 255.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a provision that deals with the aggravating circumstances related to impaired driving offences. The provision stipulates that where an offender is found to have a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 160 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, it shall be considered as aggravating circumstances relating to the offence that the court shall take into account when imposing a sentence. Strategic considerations when dealing with this provision of the Criminal Code would depend on the facts of the case. However, some general strategies that could be employed include: 1. Challenging the Accuracy of the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Test Results One of the key pieces of evidence that the prosecution will rely on in establishing the BAC of the offender is the results of the BAC test. It is critical to examine the reliability of the BAC test results, including the accuracy of the testing equipment and the procedures followed in administering the test. 2. Mitigating Factors While the provision deals with aggravating circumstances, it is equally important to present mitigating factors during sentencing. Mitigating factors can include prior good character and the absence of a criminal record, age, self-improvement efforts such as attending rehabilitation, remorse, and the impact of the sentence on the offender's family. 3. Negotiating a Plea Deal In some cases, the prosecution may be willing to negotiate a plea deal. A plea deal can result in a more favourable sentence for the offender, and it can help avoid the need for a trial, which can be costly and time-consuming. 4. Preparing the Sentence Hearing During the sentence hearing, the defence must present a compelling case for a reduction in the sentence. The defence should prepare carefully for this hearing, including marshalling all available mitigating factors and presenting a persuasive argument as to why a particular sentence would be appropriate. 5. Consulting with Experienced Counsel Impaired driving cases can be complex, and it is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced criminal lawyer. The lawyer can help the offender understand the law and the process, and they can provide skillful representation during the trial and sentencing. In conclusion, Section 255.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a provision that should be taken seriously by offenders charged with impaired driving offences. However, with careful planning and strategic considerations, it is possible to obtain a more favourable outcome during the trial and sentencing.