Province prepares for more appeals under new drunk driving laws
The Alberta Transportation Safety Board is expecting to see more appeals after the province’s new, tougher drunk driving laws take effect July 1st.
"We are looking to hire additional board members to offset this," said Ron Smitten, chair of the board.
Under the new law, if a driver blows over the legal limit police will now hold onto that person’s license until after their case is done with and the vehicle will be taken away for at least three days.
It costs $250 to file an appeal with the Alberta Transportation Safety Board.
Smitten says they already deal with around 6,000 hearings a year. He says that, with the new law, they will be busier but isn’t yet sure by how much.
Transportation Minister Ric McIver says that the possibility of appealing the decision to hold onto someone’s license may seem like a loophole to some, but that it is an important part of the process.
"I expect we'll get some criticism, saying you're being too fair to the people charged," he said. "But .. we want to give people anybody who's innocent ... a chance to demonstrate that they're innocent."
The president of Alberta’s Criminal Trial Lawyers Association says the appeal system isn’t good enough.
D'Arcy DePoe says if the person is innocent, by the time they go through the appeals process, it won’t happen quickly enough to avoid losing access to their vehicle.
"If the suspension is three days or seven days, no one's going to be able to organize an appeal of their suspension in that period of time," he said.
"You know, the damage may already have been done. You may have lost your job."
The new law takes effect Sunday morning.