Steinbach Man Sleeping in Car a Criminal? recently posted a news story about a Steinbach man who was charged with impaired care and control of a motor vehicle when he was found sleeping in his car.  To read the full story, click here.  His breath samples were over twice the legal limit, so it seems obvious that he had been drinking, and he was sitting in the driver’s seat.  It is very possible he could be convicted.

Many people do not realize that you do not have to been physically driving or moving a vehicle to be charged with a drive impaired related offence.  The other thing is, if you are found in the driver’s seat of the motor vehicle, there is a legal presumption that you are – in fact – in care and control.  You can argue against the presumption, but the burden is now on you to show that. The leading case on this issue is from the Supreme Court of Canada called R. v. Boudreault, 2012 SCC 56.  The essential elements of the offence include:

  1. an intentional course of conduct associated with a motor vehicle;
  2. by a person whose ability to drive is impaired, or whose blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit;
  3. in circumstances that create a realistic risk of danger to persons or property.

The main lesson I would want you to know is that if you enter a vehicle to sleep it off, you could be charged and convicted of a criminal offence. The best course of action is to spend the night or get a cab home. The cost of a taxi is much cheaper than the lowest possible fine you could get for this sort of crime if you are convicted, which is $1,000.

If you have had anything to drink and you must go into your vehicle, do not sit in or go near the driver’s seat for any reason – otherwise the presumption of your guilt will be triggered.

About the author

Michael Dyck is a partner at Rees & Dyck Criminal Defence. He represents clients primarily from Winnipeg, Steinbach, and rural Manitoba. He has extensive experience helping people charged with criminal offences and focuses on building legal strategy with clients. To read more of his articles, please visit his partner's website