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EVIDENCE - Admissibility - For limited purpose

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 @ 8:45 AM  

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Appeal by the accused, Guillemin, from a conviction for impaired driving. The accused was the driver in a single vehicle accident in the early morning hours. His vehicle left the road and slid down an embankment. A nearby witness to the accident called 911 and saw the accused climb up the embankment to waiting police. The witness did not notice anything unusual about the accused's manner of walking or speech. The attending officer testified that paramedics assisted the accused to the ambulance. The officer noted the accused's unsteady balance, bloodshot eyes, blank look, and slightly slurred speech. The officer could smell alcohol emitting from the accused while he was tended to by paramedics. The accused denied drinking. A charge of driving with a blood alcohol level over .08 was stayed following a voir dire, and the voir dire evidence was admitted to trial on the impaired charge. The accused was convicted. He appealed on the basis the trial judge relied on inadmissible evidence of his impairment contrary to the limited use doctrine.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The limited use doctrine did not preclude the admission of observational evidence obtained by police carrying out authorized activities in addition to physical sobriety tests. The trial judge appropriately relied upon observations by police that occurred when the accused was assessed by paramedics, prior to any inquiry into whether he had been drinking. The judge correctly understood the scope of the limited use doctrine in determining the timing of those observations. No misapprehension of the evidence occurred. It was unnecessary to consider whether the trial judge overlooked the accused's denial of drinking. No error warranting appellate interference was established.

R. v. Guillemin, [2017] B.C.J. No. 1928, British Columbia Court of Appeal, N.J. Garson, D.C. Harris and R. Goepel JJ.A., September 15, 2017. Digest No. TLD-October92017002