Today, RoadSafetyBC made a major announcement regarding how it is going to start dealing with cases of street racing and stunt driving. You can read the announcement here.
At first blush, it sounds great for road safety. The Government makes it sound as though the current system allows only for fifteen-day prohibitions for street racing or stunt driving, and that these will now be replaced with longer prohibitions, between three and thirty six months, after this type of driving behaviour is observed. The problem with this announcement is that it sorely misrepresents the current state of affairs, and it misleads the public about why this action is being taken.
To understand this issue it’s necessary to understand the current system.
Something criminal defence lawyers are often familiar with is the process police use to determine whether suspected narcotics are actually illegal drugs. After all, it can be hard to tell whether that baggy of white power seized from an accused pockets isn’t just flour or baking soda in a bag. While baking soda may often be used as a “cutting” agent, it’s not illegal to possess in any quantity. But to the naked eye, baking soda is essentially indistinguishable from nefarious and illegal substances.
The Vancouver Police Department has sparked controversy online by posting about a driver who had his iPad and iPhone mounted to his steering wheel using string. A clever trick to get around the distracted driving laws, but one that the police officer who pulled him over frowned upon. Since they posted the tweet and photographed that revealed the funny details of this traffic stop, a huge debate has erupted online over what penalty this driver should have faced.
The police let him go with an $81 ticket for not producing a license, and a warning about the cell phone mounting system.
Here are my thoughts on whether this is actually an offence.
This week, Alberta unveiled its proposal for fixing their administrative license suspension law. The Alberta law was declared unconstitutional earlier this year, and the province was given one year to write a new version. Yesterday, they introduced the new version.
Bill 29 creates a new regime to deal with the problem of alcohol and drug-impaired driving but, in my view, does not cure the constitutional defects inherent in the legislation.
In 2008, the small country town of Merritt, British Columbia was rocked when news broke that Allan Schoenborn had stabbed his estranged wife and killed their two children while they slept. He had suffered a psychotic break, and believed that that his children were being sexually assaulted. He killed them, in the horrific, mistaken belief that doing so would somehow save them from the humiliation of the ordeal.
The Attorney General of British Columbia, David Eby, was recently interviewed by the Vancouver Sun. One of the issues covered in the interview was the question of Legal Aidfunding. During his campaign, Attorney General Eby promised to restore funding to Legal Aid, which is a critical issue in the access to justice sphere.
That has not happened yet.
Unfortunately, Attorney General Eby’s response was less than comforting, particularly for those who cannot get legal aid funding for their criminal matters.
This week, the Provincial Government announced changes to the distracted driving laws in British Columbia. Again. They are raising the fines and penalties again. If you don’t recall, I wrote about this last year when the fine amounts and penalty points were increased.
Now, the BC Government has decided to increase the penalty again, because drivers aren’t getting the message. This policy, however, actually amounts to a substitution of penalties and will not lead to a decrease in distracted driving overall.
This last week, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin waded into the #IBelieveSurvivors debate. She made some startling but important and refreshing comments about the rights of an accused person in a sexual assault trial, and the rights of complainants in sexual assault cases.
Her comments that have been most quoted are these: “no one has the right to a particular verdict.” And she is absolutely right.
However, the Government has proposed a piece of legislation that seems to codify the opposite. With Bill C-51, the Federal Government is trying to make it so that sexual assault complainants are, in essence, guaranteed a verdict unless the defence shows that a sexual assault did not occur.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, cannabis legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.