Lawyer blew over the limit, but he beat a drunk driving charge because police arrested him in his doorway
TORONTO — A prominent Ontario criminal lawyer who was driving a pickup truck that a 911 caller reported was swerving all over a major highway has been cleared of drunk driving charges because police violated his Charter rights by arresting him a few minutes later inside the doorway of his house.
All this happened within a few minutes of a 911 call to report that Irving’s black Ford pickup was driving erratically on a nearby highway.
Peel Regional police officers responded promptly, but botched the arrest, according to Justice George S. Gage. With one officer demanding he come to the door, and holding a foot in the threshold to prevent it closing, and as many as five other officers on the front step, Judge Gage found Irving was illegally “coerced by the state from the safety and privacy of his library into the scrutiny of the officers on the front porch.”
This was a violation of his Section 8 Charter right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and it means the blood alcohol readings that later showed him too drunk to drive were excluded from evidence, and so the charge failed.
Nevertheless, the judge decided that it was in fact him who was driving the truck just a few minutes earlier. His lawyer acknowledged this is true, but said Irving had not drunk any alcohol at the time.
“He’s a lawyer himself and he knows better what would be the consequences of driving impaired on the 401 (which leads from Toronto to Brampton via the 410) in the middle of the day, or broad daylight. It’s blatant,” Shahid Malik said in an interview. He called it a “very fair decision,” reflecting that Irving’s constitutional rights were violated in his own home.
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