Is drunk driving OK when the alternative may be worse?

12 November 2015 - By Eugene Herbert

Hi Folks

In my opinion there should never be a
situation in which driving under the influence can be justified, but what

Detailed below is a situation which was
presented to a court in Canada, who ruled in a manner that may surprise us.
Pick up on the story as it unfolded.

Till next time - Drive Safe and remember
that many drivers – in the silly season ahead – engage in risky behaviour such
as drinking and driving: Don’t let it be You!!!


Every now and then a seemingly simple
legal matter provides food for thought.

Last week, an Alberta farmer
successfully appealed an impaired driving conviction.

William (Bert) Virtue Millar, a
31-year-old from the Ponoka area in central Alberta, was found guilty of a 2012
incident and again after a summary conviction appeal in 2014.

However, the farmer successfully argued
he never had intent to get behind the wheel after drinking enough alcohol to be
legally impaired, but his cattle escaped and the herd, which included animals
weighing nearly 2,000 pounds, were perilously close to a busy highway.

Knowing he was impaired, he decided it
was a greater risk to allow the animals to migrate onto the highway and
possibly cause a fatal collision.

Defence lawyer Alan Pears argued both
judges were wrong in their reasoning relating to the so-called defence of
necessity, where a person can be excused for breaking the law when there is
clear and imminent peril and no other viable choice available.

"Millar risked his liberty, if not
his life, to prevent carnage on the highways," wrote Pears. He also wrote
the conviction would create a precedent "whereby farmers should simply
allow non-farmers to be killed." He said a collision with one of the
2,000-pound cows would have been like "hitting a wall for any
motorists" and he "couldn't have that on my conscience." After
successfully herding the cattle into an adjacent field, Millar started the
truck to move it off the road, but passed out from exhaustion where he was
found by police.

Meanwhile, the case provides an
interesting point of debate when it comes to intent. If you blow over a certain
blood-alcohol level while operating a motor vehicle you have broken the law and
face a certain consequences. But if you knowingly do so because you know the
alternative is much more dangerous, should it still be a crime?

In this case, the appellate court seemed
to agree a farmer on a dirt road driving a truck to corral a loose herd of
cattle before they hit the highway was reason enough.

What if you are impaired and a loved one
suffers a serious injury, heart attack or stroke in a remote area and your only
recourse is to drive loaded?

There are millions of scenarios that could
evolve, and the only way to be sure it won't happen is to abstain, but let's be

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