The Federal Government has announced a commitment to nearly $1 Million in funding for research into cannabis impairment. And while it is nice to see the government finally direct money toward studying this important issue, it is also a little bit frustrating. In reality, the decision to do this, at this stage of the game is far too little, too late.
The biggest hint to date about what British Columbia’s drug-impaired driving scheme is going to look like is finally here. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth was quoted in The Province today as saying that a legislative scheme not unlike the Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme might soon become a reality.
It’s nice to know he’s creating a new prohibition scheme when the one that he criticized while in opposition remains unrepaired.
But what the article in The Province hints at is that roadside testing will be done by way of saliva testing. And this is inherently problematic.
A few months ago, I wrote about the awful amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act that allow the Superintendent to prepare their own material, under the guise of “technical materials” to determine cases. This material, pursuant to the legislation, is only to be used for the purpose of determining issues raised by the applicant.
The problem with the Superintendent being able to do this was that the Superintendent is then presumed to be an expert on issues which he is, frankly, not. At the time, I predicted that the Superintendent would simply rewrite science in order to advance the goal of upholding IRPs. And, unfortunately, I was right.
Today, I received word on an IRP hearing that the Superintendent would be relying on Technical Materials, including a new version of the ASD manual that was posted on their site today. I dropped everything to read this new version of the manual, and I saw something I expected to see.
On Thursday, the Liberal Government revealed its plan for marijuana legalization. Surprising to many was the fact that the Liberals introduced this as part of an omnibus bill that makes amendments to other parts of the Criminal Code, including the impaired driving legislation. Omnibus bills were commonly criticized by them as tactics used by their predecessor to pass bad legislation. These proposed changes also hide some of the more disturbing aspects the Government has introduced in furtherance of its stated goal to legalize marijuana.
I am deeply disturbed by changes that the Government has proposed, in particular the proposal to conduct random breath tests of drivers.
Over the next few blog posts, I am going to share some of my views on this proposed legislation and why I believe it to be constitutionally deficient.
One of the biggest concerns that the public has when it comes to impaired driving is the problem with repeat or chronic offenders. You probably remember the story of the Victoria woman with 19 drunk driving prohibitions, who was recently found guilty of another offence related to impaired driving. The public was, rightly, outraged that this person can still drive and is still driving drunk.
The Government, for its part, has touted the success of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition legislation as the mechanism to reduce the carnage caused by impaired drivers on the road. It frequently points to the reduction in drunk driving deaths as evidence of the success of their anti-drunk driving legislation. But what they've been keeping mum about since the introduction of the scheme is whether there is any reduction in repeat offenders for impaired driving.
In short, do the swift and severe sanctions prevent people from making the same mistake twice? The answer might surprise you.
A recent article by News1130 suggested that drunk driving numbers are falling in Vancouver. The article cites statistics provided by the Vancouver Police Department spokesperson, Brian Montague to show that in 2013, 1317 IRPs were issued to drivers. In 2014, the number fell to 1100 in 2014, and by 2015 it was down to 1030.
At first blush the numbers appear to show a general decline in drunk driving in Vancouver, but these numbers do not tell the full story.
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.
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.
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.
Because I've been an impaired driving lawyer for a few years, I have learned that it's not wise to trust the headlines regarding impaired driving statistics. Particularly when it comes to anything reported or suggested by MADD Canada. They are, after all, a lobby group with a particular interest. They have a discernible bias in what they report and how they report it. To accept what they say at face value would be akin to accepting the conclusion that McDonald's is healthy in a study funded by the restaurant chain.
Today I listened to a show on CKNW's Simi Sara show regarding MADD Canada's latest report. I wanted to write a short blog post about my thoughts on MADD Canada's 2015 Provincial Impaired Driving Report.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, cannabis legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.