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Crime

New impaired driving laws close loophole but have lawyers up in arms

Dawson Kormilo was just shy of his ninth birthday on September 3, 2009.

He and a group of friends decided to ride their bikes to a local swimming hole in Jaffray, B.C.

Fifty-four-year old Robin Roo was driving in the area. He came around a curve and hit the little boy, pinning him under the vehicle. Dawson died as a result of his injuries two days later.

“It ruins you,” Dawson’s mother Stacey Fabiano said. “I’ll never be the same person again. None of us will.”

WATCH BELOW:  Extended interview with Dawson Kormilo’s mother

Stacey Fabiano interview
Stacey Fabiano interview

In court, it was revealed that Roo fled the scene and ran to a neighbouring home. He grabbed a mickey of whiskey and started drinking it. He also drank a beer.

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This action meant that when police arrived, they couldn’t determine what his blood alcohol was at the time of the collision.

Roo pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and driving while prohibited. His licence was suspended from a previous impaired driving charge.

He was sentenced to 30 months in jail and given a lifetime driving ban.

In December of last year, the federal government implemented enhanced impaired driving laws.

READ MORE: Canada’s new impaired driving laws are now in effect — here’s what to know

The legislation does two things: it enables police to demand a breath sample from any driver they pull over and it also makes it illegal to be impaired within two hours of being behind the wheel.

This second law was put in place to close the loophole that Roo took advantage of.

“It’s disturbing, a disturbing state of the law,” Vancouver criminal defence lawyer Paul Doroshenko said.

READ MORE: Police in Canada can now demand breath samples in bars, at home

Criminal lawyers like Doroshenko are not impressed with the new legislation,

“It’s too far-reaching, overly broad, and very likely a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he said.

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“If you go home tonight and have drinks, get home at 6:00 p.m. and by 8:00 p.m. you’re on to your third rum and coke, you’re committing the offence.”

In recent weeks, this change has also been introduced to the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act.

Committing the offence is not only criminal but could also result in an immediate 90-day driving
prohibition.

“And then the burden shifts to you to prove your innocence,” Doroshenko said.

Doroshenko believes there are better ways to close the impaired driving loophole, including charging someone who drinks alcohol after a crash with obstruction of justice.

Stacey Fabiano has her own ideas.

“If you choose to drink after a tragedy like Dawson’s, you’re guilty in my mind,” she said.