Canada's Supreme Court Upholds Drunk Driving Law

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Recently, Canada's Supreme Court upheld a BC law allowing police and other law enforcement officers to immediately suspend a driver's license if the driver was suspected of drunk driving and recorded a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or greater on a mobile breathalyzer.

These roadside breathalyzers are known to be inaccurate, or at least not as accurate as they could be.

"It’s the roadside devices that are now, in essence, convicting people in BC," says Shannon Prithipaul, the former president of the criminal trial lawyers of Alberta, "and that’s troublesome, when you know you’re using a device that is not very reliable or not as reliable as what could be used.” 

Alberta's drunk driving laws, in effect in Calgary and throughout the province, have a similar provision. These roadside suspensions potentially violate every Calgarian's right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, as put forth by the Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms.
The law also gives law enforcement officers rather than court officials more receptive to arguments and more responsive to review the power to decide how a case will proceed.

“If the province chooses to enforce, more or less, the criminal code and call it ‘Administrative Law,’ in another context, they’re free to do that," explains Prithipaul. "The fact is that the province leaves the choice up to the officer to use whichever tool they want, either administrative or criminal."

This most recent ruling makes it all the more certain that Calgary's current DUI laws are here to stay.

 

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