Impaired driving: “It may not be that hot?”
One evening in June 2018, it’s time for the bars to be released on Saint-Joseph Street in downtown Quebec City. On the sidewalks, drunken pedestrians talk loudly and laugh when they see a car driving in the opposite direction on this one-way street.
Réalisant perhaps his mistake, the driver of the Chevrolet Cobalt fell toward the street Caron and hangs in passing the car parked a Uber driver just pick a client.
At the same time, on the Caron street, the patrolmen Alex Boisclair and Xavier Denis, who are watching the exit of the bars, see the Chevrolet Cobalt recoil, then stop near the District. Pedestrians shout at police officers “Y’é hot, yééoul, stop it!”
Constable Boisclair goes to the driver. From the sidewalk, he sees the driver’s hands on the steering wheel, his eyes blank, his expression frozen. Strangely, the suspect did not get out of his vehicle after hanging. The policeman opens his door, smells a strong smell of alcohol and finds saliva on the lower lip of the individual. Suspecting the man of impaired driving, the patrolman helps the suspect get out of his vehicle by holding his arm. He feels that he lacks tone.
However, between his car and the police car, the driver seems able to walk without staggering.
In the auto patrol, Constable Boisclair puts the suspect under arrest and reads his rights. The police officer and his colleague then take the suspect to a police station in La Haute-Saint-Charles.
On site, a qualified technician gives him an alcoholic test. But, surprisingly, the result indicates an alcohol level below the legal limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.08).
As the police have reason to believe that he still drove with the impaired, they submit the file to the prosecutor of the City of Quebec. And, on September 18, 2018, Marc André Courchesne, 28, is appearing for impaired driving. A year later, his trial has just begun.
This is an unrecognized fact, but a driver may face a charge of impaired driving even though it does not exceed the legal limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. (These are two different charges). The police must then demonstrate “that this person, despite it does not exceed the limit allowed, had psychomotor skills affected and represented a danger for citizens,” said David Poitras, spokesman for the Quebec Police Service.
On Wednesday, at the Quebec City Municipal Court in Sainte-Foy, the two police officers who intervened with Marc-André Courchesne were cross-examined closely by defense lawyer Jean Desjardins.
Me Desjardins wants to show that constable Boisclair, a young police officer, was unduly influenced by the context surrounding the arrest: the exit of the bars and the pedestrians who cried to arrest Mr. Courchesne because he would have been drunk.
Defense counsel also pointed out on several occasions that Marc-André Courchesne had no trouble walking in a straight line between his car and the police patrol, according to the police.
“The fact that he’s walking right has not caused you to doubt that he may not be that hot?” He asked the officer.
The lawyer also raised questions about the subjectivity of one of the officer’s first observations. “What’s an” empty stare “?” He asked Agent Boisclair.
The policeman did not flinch, saying that the empty gaze was a good indicator of impaired abilities. He also recalled the strong smell of alcohol, the low tone of the driver, his slow and uncomplicated words and his “amorphous” state.
Was the policeman right? The trial of Marc-André Courchesne continues on November 18. The technician who passed the alcohol test should be questioned.
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