Vancouver – On Monday, March 3, the BC Court of Appeal will deliver reasons for judgment in Chisholm, et al. v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles). The case was heard in March 2013. The BCCLA is an intervener in the case.
In 2010, the government changed BC’s drinking and driving law. Under the new law, a driver who blows a “warn” or a “fail” on the roadside screening device will face automatic penalties. Penalties will also apply if a driver does not give a breath sample. Penalties include a driving ban, seizure of the vehicle, paying fines and fees to have the driver’s license returned, to tow the car and for storage.
In 2011, drivers who had either blown a “fail” or who had not given a breath sample challenged the law. The BC Supreme Court found that the law was unconstitutional only as it applied to drivers who blew a “fail”. The court said that the law violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because there was no way for drivers to properly challenge the roadside breath test.
In 2012, the government changed the law again. Now, the police must tell drivers that they can ask for a second test on a different machine. The police must also tell drivers that they can ask for a review of the test through the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.
The BCCLA argued that the drinking and driving law, through its automatic penalties without a court process, has a penal impact on drivers. Therefore, it violates the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The BCCLA’s argument in the case is available here >>
What: BC Court of Appeal to release judgment in in Chisholm, et al. v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles)
When: Monday, March 3, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. (PST)
Where: BC Court of Appeal (Vancouver, BC)
Who: Lawyer for the BCCLA available for comment