British Columbia

1,137 B.C. drunk driving penalties to be refunded

At least 1,137 B.C. drivers penalized under B.C.'s tough impaired driving laws will get some of their money back, B.C.'s Deputy Superintendent of Motor Vehicles has confirmed.

Infractions will still remain on drivers' records

B.C. drunk-driving penalties rescinded

CBC News Vancouver at 6

8 years ago
More than 1,000 impaired drivers penalized under tough laws will get some money back 2:10

At least 1,137 B.C. drivers who were penalized under B.C.'s tough impaired driving laws will be getting some of their money back, B.C.'s Deputy Superintendent of Motor Vehicles has confirmed.

Deputy Supt. Stephanie Melvin says any of the drivers who had their licence suspended will also get it back, but the offence will remain on the drivers' records.

Some of the affected drivers paid more than $2,600 to attend the driver education programs and install the ignition-lock systems in their vehicles.

Any money they paid for the programs will be refunded, said Melvin.

The B.C. Justice Ministry may issue refunds to some drivers who had to pay for driving courses and install ignition locks. (The Canadian Press)

"We've gone through and are releasing these people from their requirements to do the remedial programs, which is the responsible driver program education and counselling and the ignition interlock program," she said.

The drivers were caught during a three-week period in November 2011 just before the B.C. Supreme Court ruled parts of B.C.'s tough drunk driving rules were unconstitutional.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson ruled that penalties for drivers were too serious for the law to have no adequate appeal system.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond said last month the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles was reviewing the roadside prohibitions.

Law amended

The impaired driving law was amended by the government last May, in order to strengthen the rights of accused impaired drivers to challenge roadside screening tests and appeal immediate roadside prohibitions.

The amended law requires police to inform drivers of their right to challenge their first roadside screening test by requesting a second test on a different machine.

Meanwhile Vancouver lawyer Paul Doroshenko says he has filed legal challenges over driver penalty program, arguing it appeared to be mandatory despite some drivers having perfect driving records prior to the roadside prohibition.

Doroshenko says he's now considering launching legal test cases that could challenge the 35,000 penalties issued to B.C. drivers since the province introduced its new impaired laws in September 2010.

Accused drivers are also granted more power to appeal and seek reviews through the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.

Yesterday, Port Moody police revealed improperly calibrated devices led to 14 invalid roadside suspensions for drunk driving in 2011. The government has promised to erase the suspensions from the drivers' records and reimburse any fines or fees.

With files from The Canadian Press and the CBC's Stephen Smart