Update: see previous posts – November 30, 2011 Part of B.C.’s Drunk-Driving Law Violates Charter, Judge rules, November 8, 2010 BC’s Solictor General May Water Down Drinking & Driving Laws in Spring, September 20, 2010 – Drinking and Driving Laws in British Columbia, September 4, 2010 BC Government Announces Harsh Speeding Laws & Penaltie$, July 28, 2010 Drinking and Driving Laws in British Columbia
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has reserved his decision on what to do about those parts of the province’s drunk driving law that have been declared unconstitutional.
Lawyers for drivers charged under the law argued Monday that their clients should get their licenses back immediately with a full refund on fines and fees paid.
Government lawyers told the court that such a decision would cost millions of dollars and amount to financial chaos and a greater danger to the public. The lawyers also asked for a six-month delay in the implementation of the initial decision finding the law partially invalid.
More than 15,000 British Columbians who either failed a drunk driving roadside screening test or refused to take the test could be affected by the eventual ruling.
In November, Justice Don Sigurdson ruled that imposing steep fines and penalties for those who blew over .08 was unconstitutional.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that B.C.’s automatic roadside driving prohibition law violates Charter rights when a driver fails a roadside breathalyzer test by blowing over 0.08. (CBC)
In his decision, Sigurdson said B.C.’s laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when a driver fails a breathalyzer test at the 0.08 level, as it gives the police power to impose criminal-like consequences with no opportunity given to the motorist to challenge the decision.
Sigurdson directed the lawyers arguing both sides to return to court to make arguments on how to resolve the B.C. law’s infringement on the Charter.
Victoria lawyer Jeremy Carr, who fought the law, said many people he’s heard from have lost their jobs or even their homes and more because they could no longer drive.
Carr said thousands of people caught up in the bad law should be compensated for thousands paid out in fines and penalties and their failed roadside test should be struck from their driving record.
In the days before the law was struck down earlier this month, the B.C. government boasted that the toughest drunk driving laws in Canada reduced alcohol-related vehicle deaths by 40 per cent.
Sigurdson said Monday that he was aware of the urgency involved and would rule on the issue as soon as possible.