What is the difference between operation, care and control in impaired driving cases? A subtle difference, but an important one, exists between “operation” and “care or control” as defined in s. 253 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Generally, operation requires some extent of control over the direction or movement of the vehicle. As such, an automobile which crashed and is no longer able to be driven cannot be “operated”. However even some small measure of control exists, it may be found that the vehicle was become operated. As illustration take a driver who is maneuvering the steering wheel while their vehicle is being towed out of a ditch. In this instance they are not controlling the direction of the vehicle, but because they are able to maneuver the steering wheel, they may be deemed to be operating it. This is in fact what happed in one old case, R. v. Morton  B.C.J. No. 532.
However, if one is found not to be operating a vehicle, they can still be in “care and control”, which has a lower threshold. Generally, all that is required is that the person performs some act involving the vehicle which may cause it to be set in motion or create some danger. (R. v. Boudreault,  S.C.J. No. 56.) This means that even if one did not intend to drive the vehicle they may still be found in care and control. If an inebriated person is found in the drivers seat with the key in the ignition, they cannot be seen as operating the vehicle, but are still in care and control of it.
There, exists, therefore a fairly low threshold for one to be found guilty of section 253 offence. Fortunately, there exists a large body of case law with which to mount a defense. Every year many people face impaired driving charges for misunderstandings, in situations when they did not intend to, nor did they in reality, operated or have care and control over their vehicle in fact or in law. If you are facing an impaired or “drunk” driving charge and you live in the Greater Toronto Area, call the experienced criminal defence lawyers at Bykov Law for a free consultation.