Efforts to prove B.C.’s 90-day immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) is not constitutionally valid were struck down on Monday morning.
This is the third time the legislation has been challenged since it was introduced in 2010 and now some lawyers are reviewing the decision and considering an appeal.
The controversial roadside impaired driving suspension impacts drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test or blow over 0.08 blood alcohol level.
On top of being handed a fine, their vehicle is immediately impounded and drivers are banned from driving for 90 days.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge didn’t buy the argument from a pair of lawyers, including Sarah Leamon of Acumen Law, who argued the suspensions for failing a breathalyzer test are unconstitutional and violate drivers’ rights.
“What we are seeing is that this constituted an unreasonable search and seizure when it comes to pulling over a driver and demanding a sample of their breath and we also made arguments that it was contrary to drivers’ right to counsel,” Leamon said.
“It came down to the fact that this is an administrative process rather than a contravention under criminal law and the judge applied a very flexible approach in terms of the appeal process and what kind of appeal process drivers are entitled to.”
In 2011, the original IRP challenge was found to be unconstitutional. A revised version was upheld by the courts in 2014.
It was altered once again to put the burden of proof on the driver, not the police officer.
Leamon is arguing that reverse onus is unfair because drivers are punished immediately and their only recourse is to fight it after the fact.