Alberta drunk driving law still on despite B.C. decision
A court ruling that found part of British Columbia's tough new impaired driving law unconstitutional will not hurt a similar law proposed for Alberta, Justice Minister Verlyn Olson says.
A ruling released Tuesday by the B.C. Supreme Court found that province's law violated the Charter by allowing police to immediately impose criminal consequences when drivers fail roadside breathalzyer tests.
Alberta's proposed Bill 26 has a similar provision, but Olson says the law differs from B.C.'s in that it allows for what he calls a "robust" appeal process.
"We drafted our legislation with a view to avoiding the kinds of problems that might crop up in B.C," Olson said.
"As far as I know, any problems that were identified by the court in B.C. don't touch on our legislation and we feel as though, in fact, it probably supports our legislation."
Olson says there's no reason to put the bill on hold at this point. He says Tuesday's ruling upholds other parts of the B.C. law that exist in Bill 26.
But D'Arcy Depoe, from the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, thinks the Alberta government should reconsider.
"What they should do is rethink the idea that a police officer is investigator, prosecutor and judge by the roadside," Depoe said.
"There are already severe penalties for impaired driving and there's other ways they can do this, than to do this at the roadside, which is unconstitutional and more than that, profoundly unfair to innocent people."
Olson says people have the right to challenge the law and his government is prepared to defend it in court.
The proposed Alberta legislation allows police to suspend the licenses of motorists charged with having more than .08 blood alcohol content. The suspensions remain in place until the cases are dealt with in court