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Reviews of Investigating Impaired Drivers
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Saturday
Jun302018

SUPREME COURT OF CANADA - SENTENCING FOR REFUSAL AFTER CAUSING AN ACCIDENT RESULTING IN A DEATH 

Mr. Suter drove his vehicle onto a restaurant patio, killing a two‑year‑old child. The police demanded a breath sample after the accident but he refused, on the advice of a lawyer to whom he spoke after his arrest. He was charged with refusing to provide a breath sample after causing an accident resulting in a death, and with impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm. Sometime after being charged, Mr. Suter was abducted by vigilantes who cut off his thumb with pruning shears for his role in the child’s death. He eventually pleaded guilty to the refusal offence and the other charges were withdrawn. The sentencing judge imposed a sentence of 4 months jail.  The Crown's appeal of that sentence was allowed and the Alberta Court of Appeal imposed a sentence of 26 months jail.  The Supreme Court of Canada allowed Mr. Suter's appeal in part and sentenced him to time served but upheld the 30 month driving prohibition:

In Mr. Suter's unique case, the following factors operate to remove his sentence from the normal range for a s. 255(3.2) offence: he was not impaired at the time of the accident, he refused to provide a breath sample because of ill‑informed and incorrect legal advice, and he was attacked by vigilantes. However, they do not justify the sentence imposed by the sentencing judge, which does not properly account for the gravity of the offence. A sentence of 15 to 18 months’ imprisonment would have been a fit sentence at the time of sentencing. However, he has already served just over 10 and a half months of his custodial sentence and has spent almost 9 months awaiting the Court’s decision. It would not be in the interests of justice to re‑incarcerate him at this time — it would cause him undue hardship and serve no useful purpose. R. v. Suter, 2018 SCC 34