Bottoms up Alberta, you could be in for one heck of a courtroom clash.
That’s the warning from B.C. lawyers who say new impaired driving legislation due to begin implementation here in one month may actually inhibit civil rights more than widely challenged laws in their own province.
Alberta Solicitor General Jonathan Denis has indicated indefinite suspensions for drivers who violate the .08 blood-alcohol threshold will come into effect next month. The move will prevent charged drivers from turning the ignition again until the matter has been resolved in court — a process some lawyers have suggested could take over a year and violates the legal standard of innocence until proven guilty.
B.C. has already introduced a similar 90-day suspension for .08 violations in the province; however, a Supreme Court judge ruled last year that the measure violated constitutional practices.
Changes to account for that ruling are expected to come forward next week.
“This whole thing is deeply disturbing,” said Paul Doroshenko, a veteran Vancouver lawyer who hails originally from Edmonton. “Any smart judge watching this in Alberta is going to do notice the exact same thing.”
Despite criticism, Denis said Alberta consulted a great deal with B.C.’s solicitor general before crafting its own legislation. He noted a two-tier appeal process and lack of fines — something included in B.C.’s laws — as two prominent differences.
“Legislation is challenged on a regular basis in this province and every other province,” Denis added.
But Victoria lawyer Jeremy Carr said the shift in both provinces is cause for concern.
“It’s actually scary the way provinces are going to save money by putting all of the power in the hands of police,” he said.
- B.C. lawyers Paul Doroshenko and Jeremy Carr have collectively worked on hundreds of cases involving people impacted by stricter impaired driving laws in that province.
- Alberta will also roll out three-day vehicle impoundments for Albertans violating a .05 blood-alcohol threshold. That measure is expected to come into effect in late August.