Impaired driving convictions spark B.C. lawsuits
Angry B.C. drivers have filed a flurry of lawsuits challenging the province's tough drunk driving laws, after a B.C. Supreme Court ruling last week, striking down parts of the legislation as unconstitutional.
Lawyer Jennifer Currie filed three petitions in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday on behalf of clients challenging driving prohibitions. All cited last week's decision against the section of the legislation dealing with people who blow over .08.
The ruling found 90-day suspensions and costly interlock devices too harsh for an offence drivers have limited means to appeal.
Currie says she's been flooded with calls from people wondering what that means for them and she expects to see many more petitions in the weeks to come.
"I'm bombarded with phone calls everyday... It's very frustrating for a lot of people, and it's been very unfair to a lot of people," she said.
She says many hoped the ruling would force the province to give them their licenses back, but the justice who made the ruling has yet to make a final order on the future of the law.
So instead she says they're being forced to court.
"They're mad they got stuck in an unfair law.... They're frustrated with the money they spent and they're frustrated they have to go through this at all."
0.08 convictions ruled unfair
On Wednesday Justice J.S. Sigurdson ruled that B.C. was within its jurisdiction to put in place laws that target drivers with a blood alcohol content over 0.05 per cent, because the province should be allowed to regulate licensing of drivers and put in measures to enhance highway safety.
However, the judge also found that B.C.'s laws do violate the Charter when a driver is screened and found to fail a breathalyzer test by blowing above 0.08 per cent, as it gives the police power to impose criminal-like consequences with no opportunity given to the motorist to challenge the decision.
Sigurdson wrote in his decision that under criminal law, a driver has a number of protections that are essentially stripped under B.C.'s new law for drivers who fail the breathalyzer test at a level of 0.08 or above.
He asked the lawyers for both sides to return to make arguments on how to resolve the infringement.