An Ontario man, who was convicted of drunk driving (over 80 driving), was recently sentenced to 30 days in jail despite having no criminal record.
In the early morning hours of September 2, 2016, a serious car accident took place in front of the Riverside Inn in Bracebridge, Ontario.
The driver in question, Brandon Greavette, was in a pick-up truck which left the roadway, knocked down a light standard, and damaged vehicles in the parking lot of the Riverside Inn before coming to a stop on top of the dislodged light standard. The airbags of his truck were set off by the impact. One of the front wheels of a small sedan were knocked off the car and the axle and suspension unit were found lying on the roadway.
Greavette, 26 years of age, only suffered minor cuts to his face as a result of the collision. He admitted to a police officer at the scene that he had been the driver of the pick-up truck and that he had been drinking. He had slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, an inability to focus, and an odour of alcohol on his breath and body. He had trouble balancing and stumbled on his way to the police car. Greavette provided two breath samples into a breathalyzer and was arrested at the scene. His readings were 140 and 130 mg of alcohol in 100 mg of blood.
Greavette was convicted of Over 80 driving following his trial on October 19, 2017 and Justice David Rose provided reasons for sentencing on January 10, 2018.
SENTENCING PRINCIPLES IN CANADA
If an accused pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, the Court must then determine a sentence that is fair given all of the circumstances, the seriousness of the offence, and the offender’s degree of responsibility.
The Court may increase or decrease a sentence when reviewing all of the aggravating and mitigating factors relating to the offender and the offence.
An aggravating factor is something that can serve to increase the sentence, for example the offender’s criminal record. A mitigating factor is something that can serve to decrease the sentence, such as a good work history which can indicate good character.
Under section 718 of the Criminal Code, Canadian courts must impose just sentences that have one or more of the following objectives:
- denounce the unlawful conduct and harm to the victim or the community;
- deter the offender and others from committing crimes;
- separate offenders from society, when necessary;
- rehabilitate the offender;
- provide reparations for harm done to the victim or the community; and
- promote a sense of responsibility in offenders and acknowledgement of the harm done.
In making his sentencing decision, Justice Rose took into account various factors including rehabilitation, Greavette’s degree of responsibility, the fact that he was a first-time offender, and deterrence.
The mitigating factors in this case included the fact that Greavette is a relatively youthful first-time offender who has a supportive family and a good job. However, Justice Rose noted that this was tempered by the fact that Greavette continues to abuse alcohol socially which leads to assaultive behaviour.
In addition, although Greavette has no prior criminal record, the Court noted that he had several driving-related offences (i.e. Provincial Offences Act violations) on file which included four speeding tickets, tailgating, failing to stop at a signal or crosswalk, and careless driving. He had also been ticketed in 2016 for consumption of alcohol in public. These were aggravating factors.
In addition to Greavette’s problematic-driving record, additional aggravating factors included the troubling damage from the collision (including damage to the two vehicles, property damage to the light fixture, and damage to other vehicles in the parking lot at the Riverside Inn).
Justice Rose also noted that there were 6 individuals who walked away from the accident virtually and miraculously unharmed. He emphasized the devastating consequences that drunk drivers have on Canadian society and went on to cite various cases which reiterate that drinking and driving offences are serious crimes and must be treated this way by the courts.
Given all of the above these factors, Justice Rose held that this case calls for a deterrent sentence.
The Pre-Sentence Report “supports the finding that Mr. Greavette accepts responsibility for this offence but has not yet understood that when he drinks bad things happen”.
Justice Rose wrote,
After reflection I have come to the conclusion that neither a fine, nor a conditional sentence order will meet the required principals of sentencing. I do not take lightly the decision to jail a first offender, but after reflection I have determined that the sentence will be 30 days in jail.
In addition to time in jail, Greavette is to be placed on probation for 1 year following his jail sentence, must attend counselling for alcohol abuse and obey a curfew set by the probation officer. He will also undergo an 18 month driving prohibition.
If you have been charged with a driving offence or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced criminal lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. We have a 24-hour phone service for your convenience.