When police intercept you for impaired driving, they may ask you several questions about whether you have consumed alcohol or drugs before driving. This is when you ask yourself if you should answer, and more importantly, what to answer.
First of all, you should know that the police officers who intercept you have the right to ask you if you have consumed alcohol or drugs in order to confirm or refute their suspicions or reasons for suspecting that you are unfit to drive.
However, these statements cannot be used to incriminate you. In other words, the Crown will not be able to use, at the time of your trial, your statement to the police during events related to impaired driving. Similarly, the Crown prosecutor will not be able to cross-examine you on this aspect in order to undermine your credibility before the judge. This means that these statements will be admissible in evidence only for the purpose of demonstrating to the judge that the police had reason to suspect the presence of alcohol or drugs in your system or reasonable grounds to believe that you committed an offence on the day of your arrest.
Written statement: consumption scenario
As part of their work, police officers may also ask you to complete another type of report, commonly referred to as a consumption scenario. This is in the form of a questionnaire. It aims to assess the nature and quantities of the drinks consumed on the evening of your arrest and to determine at what times they were consumed. This form also asks about when you last slept and when you last ate.
It is worth noting that even if you do not complete the form in writing, police officers can ask you the questions included in this consumption scenario and write the verbal responses you give them in their personal notebook. For this reason, it is important to withhold this information from the police and exercise your right to remain silent. This right, which is guaranteed to you by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is very important during any police interception and we strongly recommend that you exercise it. No court will convict you if you do not answer the police officers’ questions.
A free and voluntary statement
If you complete this form, either in writing or by verbally giving your answers to the police, the Crown will have to prove that the answers were given in a free and voluntary manner. This is how the Crown will be able to introduce your answers into evidence and cross-examine you at trial. The free and voluntary nature of your statement will be established if it is proven that this statement was made without promise or threat and in a conscious state of mind.
To learn more about the role of the statement or the consequences it can have, do not hesitate to contact our law firm.
Reference: Criminal Code 2018; Impaired Driving in Canada: the Charter Cases, second Edition, by Justice Joseph F. Kenkel; Capacités affaiblies: principes et application, 3rd Edition, by Karl-Emmanuel Harrison