A call that I frequently get from clients is whether they should dispute a 90-day driving prohibition for DUI. Many people are concerned that because they blew “Fail” into two different breathalyzers or because they admitted to consuming alcohol to the police that they will not have any chance of success in their driving prohibition dispute. The reality is that this could not be further from the truth.
I have an excellent track record of success in disputing DUI charges and driving prohibitions, and so this blog post will outline a few of the reasons why you should not count yourself out before consulting with a lawyer.
Since the introduction of the random breath testing provisions, an old article has been making the rounds once again. It’s an important story, because it gets at the very heart of what the problems are with random breath testing and how it can railroad otherwise good people.
Many people are sympathetic to the story of Margaret MacDonald, a woman in her eighties who was given a roadside prohibition, while completely sober, after she was alleged to have refused a breathalyzer test. However, Ms. MacDonald did not refuse; due to her age, the cold weather, and the rough treatment by the police in that case, she was incapable of blowing properly.
What many do not know, however, is the rest of the story. And the rest of the story is just as important.
In our law office, we deal with more roadside drinking and driving cases than any other law firm in the province. As a result, I probably speak with more people about drinking and driving in a month than many lawyers will in a year. I've come to realize that there are some very common and pervasive misconceptions about drinking and driving that exist in our province. This post will help to dispel a lot of those myths.
A lot of people that initially call my office aren't sure how to go about defending their Immediate Roadside Prohibition. They don't know what it takes to defend an IRP. As with any legal work, most clients whose cases I successfully have defended are unaware of all that has gone into their defence.
Simply put, defending an Immediate Roadside Prohibition isn't just about presenting my client's version of events and hoping the adjudicator makes the right decision. There is so much more that goes into defending an IRP.
Knowing the Law
A huge aspect of defending clients who are facing long driving prohibitions comes down to knowing the law. This is why people hire lawyers in the first place -- because they want someone who has extensive experience in a particular area and is best equipped to handle their case. When I defend clients facing Immediate Roadside Prohibitions, in every single case, I don't just present their version of events. My submissions contain a comprehensive breakdown of all the applicable case law, and how it relates to their cases.
Part of knowing the law is knowing the cases that work for and against my clients. Just because a person lost their IRP appeal in BC Supreme Court, doesn't mean that the decision should be disregarded. I have attributed a great deal of my success to the fact that I am able to glean the legal principles from the cases, and apply them even when the outcome has not been favourable.
One of the reasons I know the law is because I have been fighting these cases not just before the tribunal, but also in BC Supreme Court. Some of my successful decisions have resulted a complete change in practice and procedure at RoadSafetyBC.
Knowing the Machinery
One benefit that I have, that my clients often do not, is that I know the machinery. Not only have I operated and used an Alco-Sensor IV DWF on numerous occasions, but I have also read the manufacturer's manual, the RCMP manual, and the calibration manuals. I have calibrated and checked the calibration of these devices using both types of alcohol standard. I have an Alco-Sensor IV and an Alco-Sensor FST in my office. I've even been certified in the calibration and operation of the Alco-Sensor FST by the manufacturer.
Because I have access to the equipment and the information about the equipment, I am able to discern easily from police records whether the breathalyzers were properly operated or functioning properly at the time of the test. There are so many nuances in the operation and maintenance of these devices that can be overlooked by people without a trained eye. Knowing the breathalyzer is a significant contributing factor to my successes in IRP DUI cases.
Never Giving Up
In truth, this is probably as much a personality flaw as it is a benefit to my clients. When something matters to me, I will fight to the bitter end. When it comes to defending Immediate Roadside Prohibitions, I never give up. Anytime there is a change in the law that benefits my clients, I will spend evenings and weekends in the office, pulling files, contacting clients, and making supplemental submissions to the RoadSafetyBC tribunal or the Attorney General. It is not uncommon for me to fax submissions to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles over the weekend, until their fax machine runs out of memory and paper.
If you receive an Immediate Roadside Prohibition, you need a lawyer who knows the law, knows the machinery, and never gives up. I cannot promise that I will win your case, but I can promise that I am all those things.
As reported on the Acumen Law Blog recently, the breathalyzer doesn't always work correctly. And key to defending any Immediate Roadside Prohibition case is understanding how these devices work.
But sometimes, errors occur that cannot be explained. As you can see in the above video, the Alco-Sensor IV DWF device simply would not accept my breath sample. I have blown into this and other breathalyzer and approved screening devices probably thousands of times. I have experimented with blowing hard, blowing soft, blowing for a short time, and blowing for a long time. I know how to provide a suitable sample. And in the video above, I was doing exactly what the device required to meet the sampling parameters. Yet for some reason, the device simply did not detect my airflow.
This was an approved screening device that had been checked for calibration using a wet bath standard and had received recent annual servicing. On paper, there was no reason why the device should not have accepted my breath sample. Nonetheless, despite my best and most legitimate attempts to blow, the machine did not work.
I deal with many Immediate Roadside Prohibition, Administrative Driving Prohibition, and criminal refusal to blow charges every year. Every once in a while I have a client who tells me they were making an earnest and honest attempt to provide a sample, but the police disclosure reveals information that would indicate no air was going into the device. Having experienced this issue myself, I can relate to my clients' bafflement at their circumstances and I understand my clients' innocence.
One of the most important factors in defending impaired driving, DUI, and/or Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) cases is understanding the equipment used by the police. Until you have had hands-on experience with the devices and instruments, you cannot fully understand the intricacies of how these machines work. I am fortunate to have a small collection of breath testing equipment, including a BAC Datamaster C approved instrument, an Alco Meter SL-2 approved screening device, a Draeger AlcoTest 7410 approved screening device, and a Breathalyzer 900, which was formerly an approved instrument. In our office, we have an Alco-Sensor FST, Alco-Sensor IV, Intoxylizer 400, and an Intoxlyzer 5000. I have personally operated and used each of these pieces of equipment, so I know and understand how they work and why they fail.
But sometimes, (like in the above video) even with plenty of experience using a device, it simply does not work. And the reason why cannot be explained.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, cannabis legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.