In R v Tattoon, 2014 ONCA 273, a judgment released by the Ontario Court of Appeal this week, the Court allowed the defence of accident caused by intoxication for a charge of arson. Mr. Tattoon, while intoxicated, set out to cook bacon on the stove. He poured oil into a pan and accidentally turned the stove element to a high setting, as opposed to the low setting as he had intended. While the pan heated up, he made a quick trip to Tim Hortons to get a coffee, presumably to sober himself up. Upon returning home, he found the house on fire. As a result of his drunken desire for bacon and coffee, the house accidentally burnt down. The issue that faced the trial judge and the Court of Appeal is whether his drunkenness while doing a dangerous act like using a stove could be a defence.
Fines are imposed in almost all drinking and driving cases. Recent changes to sentencing by the Federal Government have doubled the Victim Fine Surcharges (VFS) from 15 to 30 percent, and done away with the Judge's discretion - they are now mandatory. VFS is a surcharge added to all criminal convictions: either a 30% addition for any fine, or if no fine, than $100 for each summary conviction and $200 for each indictable conviction. The money collected from this surcharge is meant to help victims of crime.