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Alberta government won’t appeal top court ruling to strike down impaired driving law

Click to play video: 'Police look for guidance as changes are coming to Alberta’s impaired-driving laws'
Police look for guidance as changes are coming to Alberta’s impaired-driving laws
WATCH ABOVE: Changes are coming to Alberta's impaired-driving laws but until then, police are looking for guidance on what to do. Kendra Slugoski explains – Aug 16, 2017

The Alberta government will not appeal a ruling that struck down part of its impaired driving legislation that allowed police to suspend the licences of suspected drunk drivers.

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said the province will make changes to the law instead.

“We want to ensure that our laws reduce impaired driving while also being upheld in court,” Ganley said.

The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled in May that it was unconstitutional to suspend the licences of drivers who have not yet been found guilty in court. It said that violates a presumption of innocence.

READ MORE: Alberta’s top court strikes down provincial impaired driving law

Lawyers argued that the tougher penalties would encourage innocent people to plead guilty just to get the process over with, or to shorten their licence suspension.

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The appeal was launched by Daniel Sahaluk and others against Alberta (Transportation Safety Board), Attorney General of Alberta and Registrar of Motor Vehicle Services.

Several years ago, Sahaluk was charged with failure to provide adequate sample after he was pulled over at a checkstop. He said he told police he’d had a few beers with friends earlier in the night. He also said he told them he wouldn’t be able to provide a breath sample due to a lung condition and offered to do a blood test.

“They still felt it was necessary to punish me as if I was binge drinking while I was driving,” he said Thursday.

Sahaluk said he was arrested, charged and lost his licence for about seven months.

“I couldn’t work because at the time, I was doing standup comedy where I had to drive to small towns… I needed a licence, so that affected my income drastically.”

Sahaluk said his case was eventually thrown out.

READ MORE: Alleged drunk drivers shouldn’t have licences seized immediately: Alberta court challenge 

Even though the court struck down the law, it will still remain in effect until May 2018.

Ganley said the government plans to talk to interested parties before bringing any new legislation forward.

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— With files from Global News 

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