Impaired Operation Causing Death

Our client was driving to see his family on Christmas Eve. As his car entered a gentle curve in the road, his car suddenly veered across the middle line and struck another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, tragically killing the two occupants of the car travelling in the opposite direction. When the police arrived at the accident scene, there was no obvious explanation for the accident. After the defendant was evacuated to the hospital, the police found a burned marijuana cigarette amongst the debris that fell out of his car. As such, the police, despite having noticed no indicia of impairment, sought and obtained a warrant to seize a sample of the defendant’s blood. Ultimately, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was located in his blood, which is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.

Our client was charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death. At the preliminary inquiry, the prosecution’s expert was cross examined on the “science” of quantifying impairment by marijuana, based simply on THC levels in the blood. It was conceded that the toxicological understanding of impairment by marijuana had not yet reached a level where an objective quantification could prove subjective impairment in an individual. As a result, the expert admitted she had no scientific basis to opine that at the time of the accident, the defendant would have been even slightly impaired.

Result: Our client was discharged of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death.