January 2018

What do I say when I go through a roadblock?


An annual CounterAttack roadblock focusing on impaired drivers. (BC Government)

One of the most difficult questions I get as a lawyer is probably also the most common. I get it from friends, family members, clients, and colleagues. The question is: 

What do I say when I go through a roadblock? 

​It’s a tough question to answer because it lacks a lot of context. 

When can police take your fingerprints in Canada?

​​​Identity is a big thing in criminal law. There’s always the question of whether someone is in fact who they claim to be. It makes sense. Different people can look alike, and it’s not that unusual to find someone who’s a near-perfect doppelgänger living in the general vicinity of their counterparts. So over the years legislators have developed ways to keep track of individuals with increasingly advanced techniques.

The Government’s Big Cell Phone Enforcement Secret

A few months ago, the BC Government announced yet another increase in the penalties for distracted driving tickets in this province. I have previously written about the manner in which these penalties are pretty much a long-con cash grab for government. What the Government hasn’t announced, and what it probably did not know would happen, was the manner in which RoadSafetyBC would step in to craft their own form of severe “justice” in cell phone cases. 

Rest of the world has foreign driver’s licences figured out, why hasn’t BC?

​BC’s lack of clarification for foreign drivers is definitely confusing. For one, all the Motor Vehicle Act requires is that a foreign driver carries a valid driver’s licence, even if the document is in a different language and police officers are unable to read them. This has caused countless frustrations particularly for visitors to BC who carry valid foreign driver’s licences, but receive traffic tickets for driving without a licence anyways because police officers are trying to be cautious.

This should never have been a problem.
Most developed countries around the world (and even other provinces in Canada) have already figured it out. They all use a little slip of paper called an International Driving Permit, which is a translated document to be carried with a foreign driver’s licence allowing local law enforcement to understand the driving privileges of the holder of a foreign licence.

Criminal sentences are not about pleasing the victim


Connor Neurauter was sentenced to three months’ jail for sexual interference with a 13-year-old girl. (Facebook)
This past week, a lot of outrage has been expressed online about another sexual assault case. In this case, a young man has been convicted of sexual interference, after he engaged in a sexual relationship with a thirteen year old girl. The matter resulted in a three month jail sentence for the twenty-one year old offender.

​Now, it’s hard to imagine that anyone is too upset about a three month sentence for a sexual interference case. What has the public upset is the fact that the imposition of the jail term in this matter is being delayed so that the offender can finish his semester at the University of Calgary. This has the public upset.

Immediate Roadside Prohibitions unfairly punish the innocent

​In doing a large number of IRP Judicial Review cases, I get a good sense of the overall fairness of the scheme. The issue is not just one of procedural fairness – a legal term of art – but one of the visceral, very real fairness.  And although we in the business of the justice system like to talk about fairness in justice, the sad reality is that often there are situations of real unfairness that cannot be remedied.

Is marijuana-impaired driving really a crisis? I say not.

The promise of legal marijuana by July 1, 2018 appears to have gone up in a puff of smoke. The federal government has manufactured a crisis of drug-impaired driving that has led to the delay in the implementation of the Liberal government’s promise to legalize recreational marijuana.

I say “manufactured” because the crisis upon which they are relying to delay this does not exist.

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