Suspending drivers' licences until trial 'dead wrong': lawyer

A Saskatoon defence lawyer says it's good the government is concerned about drunk drivers, but it's "dead wrong" when it comes to a recent change dealing with licence suspensions.

Mark Brayford says 1 of the government's new get tough rules may be unconstitutional

A Saskatoon defence lawyer says it's good the government is concerned about drunk drivers, but it's "dead wrong" when it comes to a recent change dealing with licence suspensions.

Until recently, when someone pulled over and blew .08, it would mean a 24-hour suspension (extended to 90 days after Saskatchewan Government Insurance is notified).

However, as of Friday, June 27, the licence suspension stays in effect until the driver's case is resolved in court.

Saskatoon lawyer Mark Brayford, who handles a lot of impaired driving cases, says that's a problem.

"There is one glitch where they are punishing potentially innocent people for wanting to be able to have a trial and that's one amendment that I think is philosophically dead wrong," he said.

Immediate licence suspension up to court disposition is something that will likely be challenged in court as a violation of people's constitutional rights, he said.

"It destroys the presumption of innocence," he said. "If you want to have a trial they're going to take your licence away and presently we only take someone's licence away pending trial if they're likely dangerous."

The new licence suspension rules are part of a slew of changes to traffic safety rules that SGI says are designed to save lives.

Also starting Friday: if police find a driver with a blood-alcohol content below the legal limit but above .04 per cent, the driver's licence will be suspended for a minimum of three days.

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