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Impaired driving case in Halton thrown out because of unreasonable delay

Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a person charged with a criminal offence has the right "to be informed without reasonable delay of the specific offence" and the right "to be tried within a reasonable time." If unreasonable delay in either of these capacities occurs, then it may be possible to have the case dismissed.

That was the outcome after more than 11 months of delay in an impaired driving case in Halton. The defendant filed an application to have the charge against him dismissed on the grounds that his trial had been unreasonably delayed. In agreeing with that assertion, the justice hearing the case blamed the court system's backlog on the government's tough-on-crime agenda combined with a lack of government funding.

The judge also faulted the government for failing to address the region's continuing population boom.

Indeed, a lack of government resources is no excuse for unreasonably delaying a defendant's trial. Facing a criminal charge can effectively put a person's life on hold until the matter is resolved, even if the eventual outcome is acquittal.

If you have been accused of a criminal offence, then it is important to explore every available defence option, including any possible infringements on your Charter rights. Particularly in impaired driving cases, a defence strategy may include challenging the legality of the stop, as well as the methods used for sobriety testing. If an impaired driving case takes an unreasonably long time to go to trial, then this too could be used in defence of the accused.