Impaired driving licence suspensions challenged in court
Three people whose licences were suspended under Alberta’s new impaired driving law are asking for a stay of proceedings because they believe the legislation is unconstitutional.
The law, which came into effect last year, immediately suspends the licences of drivers charged with blowing over .08.
The suspensions stay in place until drivers prove their innocence in court which lawyers argue can take as long as 18 months.
If they are found not guilty, defence lawyer Matt Woodley argued that they were wrongly penalized, which violates the Charter of Rights.
Woodley believes the law was written to force people into guilty pleas.
"This very long suspension — that can sometimes last significantly longer if you decide to plead not guilty and go to trial — is something that the province does not have the ability to do under our constitution," he said.
Lawyers for the province argue that the law is in the public interest.
Sean McDonnaugh told the court that a similar law enacted in British Columbia led to a 46 per cent decrease in alcohol-related crashes over two years.
If the judge grants the application, charges faced by the three individuals would be stayed until the court is able to rule on the constitutional challenge.