In the spirit of reefer madness and fear-mongering, the decision by the Canadian Senate to back down from their amendments to marijuana legalization has already sparked debate about carange on our roadways. But does the effective legalization of marijuana in Canada pose any realistic risk?
Frankly, that's doubtful.
This is not another article about the science behind marijuana and driving impairment. What it is instead is a look into Canada's impaired driving legislation that already exists, to see how there is already an effective enforcement scheme set up in our existing laws. What the Federal Government is proposing in Bill C-46 for an overhaul of impaired driving legislation is just not necessary.
And here's why.
Since the move toward legalization of recreational marijuana began after the last federal election, a lot of discussion has taken place surrounding marijuana-impaired driving. What has never been clear throughout all this discussion is what the existing state of the law is when it comes to cannabis impairment and driving. This has not been assisted by the introduction of Bill C-46, which creates separate offences involving marijuana and driving.
This post breaks down marijuana impaired driving as it currently stands in British Columbia and under federal criminal law.
Impaired driving cases are highly complex and technical. Understanding the issues that arise in these cases requires a strong level of knowledge in the law, Charter rights and litigation, and the scientific underpinning of impaired driving charges. My goal as a driving lawyer with a focus in impaired driving cases is to have the best level of knowledge possible about all of these issues.
Many lawyers do not take steps to appreciate or understand the complex science that goes into impaired driving cases. Faced with an instrument like the one depicted above, they would struggle to identify what it is. It's a liquid chromatography mass spectrometry instrument, for the record. And when it comes to operating the instrument and interpreting and understanding the results, many lawyers would similarly be at a loss.
I try to go the extra mile for my clients so that I can easily spot the important issues.
On Episode Five of Driving Law with Kyla Lee I sat down with Paul Doroshenko from Acumen Law Corporation. We talked about the changes to ICBC's Driver Risk Premium, which will increase premiums for drivers who are convicted of any high risk offences. And in the second half of the episode, I spoke with Acumen's Agnes Tong about how DUI convictions will impact your ability to enter Canada or remain in Canada as a visitor or Permanent Resident.
You can listen here, subscribe on iTunes, and tune in next week for another episode.
In last week's episode of Driving Law with Kyla Lee, I sat down with Roy Ho of Acumen Law Corporation to talk about ICBC and insurance breach investigations. In particular, Roy and I discussed how your insurance is affected by impaired driving charges and how ICBC will breach insurance coverage after an impaired driving incident. For anyone affected by an impaired driving case involving an accident, this episode is a must-listen to know whether ICBC will provide coverage in a DUI accident.
In the second half of the episode, Roy and I also discuss the changes to British Columbia's Insurance Vehicle Act and coverage for minor injury claims.
Don't forget as well to vote for me in Canadian Lawyer Magazine's Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers survey.
In a move that resembles what the Federal Government did with its overhaul of impaired driving laws, the Provincial Government has hidden some very disturbing changes to the alcohol-impaired driving provisions in the new law addressing cannabis-impaired driving.
Of course, the legislation was tabled with a variety of bills, all of which were designed to create a regulatory framework for cannabis legalization in British Columbia. So it was no surprise that the media did not notice or report on the surreptitious tweaks made to alcohol impaired driving provisions in the Motor Vehicle Act.
But I did. And I’m here to explain them, and why they are seriously problematic.
This morning, the Provincial Government finally unveiled its regulatory framework for dealing with the issue of marijuana-impaired driving, come legalization of recreational cannabis. The purpose of this blog post is to explain the changes to BC’s Motor Vehicle Act that are being proposed to deal with cannabis legalization. And, as usual, to offer my opinion on why these changes are not appropriate or effective.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the Alco-Sensor FST manual was changed to support a certain unscientific and inaccurate belief about mouth temperature. My concern with any of this is, of course, the fairness of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition review process and whether drivers are given a reasonable opportunity to challenge the apparent results of their breath tests.
Sadly, today I learned of yet another change the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles has made to make the review process less effective and fair to drivers. I have to say, sometimes participating in this review process is like attempting to play a chess match with Death, except Death can change the rules of the game at any point.
Back in 1975, the Supreme Court of Canada made a groundbreaking decision on drunk driving. The decision was about the admissibility of breathalyzer test results presented in court. In this decision, the Court held that breathalyzer results, even absent evidence the breath sample was lawfully obtained, could still be used in court to convict a driver for being over the blood alcohol limit, with this caveat: as long as the driver did in fact provide a breath sample, and a certificate of analysis was admitted into evidence.
In plain English, what the court was saying is that if you provided a breath sample, even if the demand for the breath sample was unlawful, the results of that breath test could be used against you in court.
Since then, courts across the country have gone back and forth about whether that decision remains good law or whether it's absolutely bonkers that unlawfully obtained evidence is somehow still admissible in court.
Charter Statement on Drunk Driving Laws: A perspective from someone who routinely litigates the Charter
It's troubling when the Government has to issue a public statement defending a law before the bill is event tabled for debate. When the proposed legislation is so flagrantly and blatantly unconstitutional, the Government is clearly scrambling to justify its existence before it is even passed. And so that brings us to the big drunk driving law news of the week: Jodi Wilson's Charter Statement on Bill C-46. My summary opinion is this: it's a stinking pile of nonsense.
Or, as one lawyer interviewed put it, "if a first year student wrote this, they would fail."
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, marijuana legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.