Despite the province’s pledge to keep the pressure on drunk drivers, the number of people caught over the limit has plummeted in the months since part of B.C.’s new drunk-driving law was struck down.
In November, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that the immediate 90-day driving bans for people who blow a “fail” in roadside tests were unconstitutional because there wasn’t a fair appeal process. In the fallout, the province promised that drunk drivers would still be caught and charged the old way — through the Criminal Code.
Since then, an average of about 318 impaired charges has been approved and 456 recommended by police every month. That’s just a fraction of the approximately 1,283 people per month who were suspended from driving after blowing a “fail” under the unconstitutional law.
The government is planning on going back to the immediate roadside bans in June after introducing a number of new ways for drivers to appeal their suspensions with the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. Police officers will be legally obligated to inform drivers of their right to take a second test on another breathalyzer — and the lower reading will prevail.
But critics like defence lawyer Paul Doroshenko say that even with the changes, there isn’t a fair appeal process and the law will likely be contested again.
“What is this going to cost B.C. taxpayers? Eventually this is probably going to end up going back to court,” he said.