What is a Forensic Alcohol Expert (Consultant) and what do they do?

A Forensic Alcohol Expert is a scientist, usually working at a forensic laboratory, who performs several related activities including the analysis of blood for alcohol content. The blood can be taken from people who have been stopped for impaired driving offences, or sometimes from the victims of murder or serious assaults. Forensic Alcohol Experts can be called on by Crown Counsel or defence lawyers to give evidence in court about the effects of various BACs on people, on the ability to drive, and sometimes on behaviour.

Forensic Alcohol Experts prepare the educational materials used to train police officers in the use of both the evidentiary and the ASD instruments, and they also perform a lead role as instructors. As a consequence of their scientific backgrounds and their oversight of the training courses, they are often asked by Crown Counsel to provide scientific and technical reports evaluating the reliability and accuracy of breath or blood test analyses or to give an opinion on the operation of a breath test device before the courts.

Forensic Alcohol Experts are often asked to calculate the BAC of a person who has consumed a specific amount of alcohol over a specific period of time. This is called a “drinking pattern calculation”. These calculations can determine if the drinking described by the person is consistent with the BAC result from a blood or breath test, and can be used to refute or confirm a blood or breath test.

Independent Forensic Alcohol Experts, not currently affiliated with a police laboratory, can review documents in an impaired driving investigation to determine if there are errors in the breath or blood test analysis, or if a drinking pattern calculation might be useful.