B.C. Court of Appeal upholds the drinking and driving law

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Vancouver: The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld the legislation that calls for automatic penalties under B.C.’s drinking and driving law. “The legislation’s purpose and effect is to regulate highways and enhance public safety,” the court wrote.

In 2010, BC’s drinking and driving law was changed and under the new law, a driver had to blow a “warn” or a “fail” on the roadside screening device. Penalties included a driving ban, seizure of the vehicle, and fines. In 2011, The BC Supreme Court said that the law violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because there was no way for drivers to properly challenge the roadside breath test. In 2012, the government yet again changed the law. Now, the police must tell drivers that they can ask for a second test on a different machine. The police must also tell drivers that they can ask for a review of the test through the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. The BCCLA argued that the drinking and driving law, through its automatic penalties without a court process, has a penal impact on drivers. Therefore, it violates the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But The B.C.Court of Appeal has now ruled the law will standby. Government says that 190 lives have been saved since the legislation came into effect.  Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said, “ This is a day to celebrate a law that is protecting B.C. families. Three years ago, we set a brave and ambitious target by promising to reduce drinking and driving fatalities by 35 per cent in Alexa’s memory. I’m proud to say that together we beat that target and created real change through our approach to drinking and driving – and that is a promise made and a promise kept.”

The Province launched the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program on Sept. 20, 2010, in honour of four-year-old Alexa Middelaer.  who was killed by a drunk driver in 2008.