Everyone knows that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after a night of boozing is dangerous. It could lead to you losing your life, and could lead to injuring or killing others. Nevertheless, what if the only alternative is to sleep it off in your car? Apparently, in Ontario, even if you're snoozing in the back seat after having been drinking, you may have a tough time if the police find you.
If the police administer a Breathalyzer test and you blow more than the allowable limit, you could face charges of care or control of a vehicle while being impaired. Translation: drunk parking. A care or control charge has been a contentious issue as far as the courts are concerned, but a recent Supreme Court ruling brought clarity to the issue by indicating that alcohol and vehicles do not a marriage make under any circumstances.
Many drivers are oblivious of the laws
If a police officer approaches you when you're sitting in your car and you've had a few, even if you make it clear you have no intentions of driving, you still could face charges. Care or control in the Criminal Code says you could be liable even if your car is in park. In 1967, the Supreme Court stated that the goal of Parliament was to strike at the very root of evil, to wit: the combination of alcohol and automobile that normally breeds this element of danger.
In 2012, drivers facing these charges got a reprieve of sorts when the Supreme Court ruling said the Crown has to prove a realistic risk of danger not simply a theoretical risk. That didn't mean that all those charged with care or control should have the charges dropped; instead, anyone found drunk behind the wheel with the chance of driving should be convicted. There should be indicators in place to ascertain who indeed poses a risk and who does not.
Case by case
Facing charges for doing the right thing should not be the case, and experts believe police should evaluate cases on an individual basis. If police feel you're simply sleeping off a binge in your car and you pose no risk of driving off, then perhaps they should let matters be. The legal policy director at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) agrees and says MADD is concerned about those genuinely posing a risk to public safety.
When you're facing charges of any kind, especially ones that are unclear to you, you more than likely have many questions about your rights. You have the right to get legal advice to help you understand the charges. An experienced lawyer will be able to determine your best defense strategy, which can significantly increase your odds of securing the best possible outcome.