November 2015

The Supreme Court of Canada’s IRP and Traffic Ticket Language Cases and their Impact on British Columbia’s Proposed Traffic Ticket Tribunal

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada released its reasons in Caron v. Alberta. This case dealt with the question of whether traffic tickets in Alberta and traffic legislation needed to be printed in both English and French. Ultimately, the Court ruled that insofar as Alberta is concerned, there is no constitutional requirement to provide legislative bilingualism in the case of traffic tickets.

This decision is on the heels of another decision pertaining to traffic law and the province’s powers to enact that legislation. This was the constitutional challenge to BC’s controversial impaired driving law in Goodwin v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles). The Court there found that it was within the legislative competence of British Columbia to enact a provincial scheme to deal with impaired driving, even if there were incidental effects on criminal prosecutions.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these two decisions and what they mean for BC’s traffic ticket tribunal. It’s early to tell, but it is certain that they will have an impact to our office’s inevitable challenge to the legislation.

Immediate Roadside Prohibition for DUI: Success Rates and Statistics

If you read my firm’s blog, you’ve probably read that we are consistently the top law firm in British Columbia for Immediate Roadside Prohibition for DUI cases. I wanted to write a short post breaking down some of the statistics over the past few months, so that people can better see the success that our firm has had, and in particular the success that I have had in defending these cases.

Frequently, clients who phone ask me who the best lawyers are to defend Immediate Roadside Prohibition cases. It’s not uncommon for people to want to shop around to find the best person, at the right price. I wish that I could answer these clients with the statistical information, but it’s impossible to do a hyperlink over the phone. So I’m providing the information here.

Shoplifting: Is it an age-related problem? 

One issue that criminal defence lawyers deal with on a regular basis is shoplifting. There is a public perception that shoplifting is typically aberrant teenage behaviour. But my experience in dealing with countless shoplifting cases is that the stereotype of teenagers shoplifting for a thrill is not at all reflective of the reality of shoplifting. This raises the question: is shoplifting an age-related problem? Do people “grow out of it” or is it something that is not limited to any particular age range?

I’ve done some research into the role that age plays in shoplifting and have set it out below.

Alcohol, Abstinence, and Drinking and Driving

The Globe and Mail recently posed a question: how do we fix our drunk-driving problem? It has always been my position that the only way to ensure that there is less drinking and driving is by raising awareness of the dangers through education, and enforcing existing drunk driving laws in a visible manner. This means frequent roadblocks, television and radio ad campaigns, presentations at schools, and road signs alerting drivers to the impaired driving laws.

Disturbing Changes to the Immediate Roadside Prohibition Scheme

When the rulings in Goodwin and Wilson came out, I wondered what would happen to Bill 15, the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act. I wrote about this bill and the changes that it would bring to Immediate Roadside Prohibitions in an earlier blog post. Originally, I had thought that the Government might back away from the changes, since the Court commented in Goodwin about the inadequacy of the review process, and the thoroughness of the right of review under the current scheme.

But when I saw the Government’s spin on Immediate Roadside Prohibition laws being “upheld” I started to question that belief. After discussion with some colleagues, I quickly realized that the Government was not going to back down. Rather, they were going to do what they had originally intended with the amendments.

A Witness to Your Immediate Roadside Prohibition for DUI

The Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme in British Columbia has been criticized for its failure to provide many of the ordinary means by which the truth is discovered. Rather than allowing for witness testimony, cross-examination, and face-to-face hearings, the British Columbia law only allows drivers to provide their evidence in written form. If you select an oral hearing, you can testify. But your testimony and your arguments are limited to 30 minutes. This barely gives enough time to cover the material, much less provide a full case to the adjudicator. 

The types of protection you don’t have with an IRP are the types of protection you get if you are issued a speeding ticket, which is considerably less serious. It seems ridiculous that the more significant consequences of an Immediate Roadside Prohibition have fewer means to challenge them than a simple traffic ticket.

So what do you do if you have a witness to your IRP?

Traffic Court Excuses That Never Work: Speeding Ticket Edition

In a recent post, I discussed traffic court excuses that never work when you are issued a cell phone ticket. From the feedback I received, I believe I cleared up a lot of misconceptions about British Columbia’s cell phone laws. However, misconceptions about traffic laws in British Columbia are not limited solely to cell phones. In my experience as a traffic and driving lawyer, I have come to learn that there are also a number of misconceptions about speeding laws that permeate the way people approach their defences in traffic court. This post will clear up those misconceptions.

Removing Your IRP From Your Driving Record

If you are charged with and convicted of a criminal offence, you get a criminal record. Your criminal record is not necessarily for life. After a period of time, a person is eligible to apply for a criminal record suspension, also known as a pardon. This is a fair and reasonable process, because people change. As you grow older and move on with your life, the drunk driving charge you got when you were twenty doesn’t necessarily reflect the circumstances you have at age thirty five, when you’ve got children and a steady job. Your criminal record shouldn’t follow you forever and impede your ability to travel and obtain employment.

But in British Columbia, your driving record does follow you everywhere. And unlike a criminal record, which is arguably far more serious than a driving record, there is no such thing as a pardon for your driving record.

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