B.C. court eases rules for appealing roadside suspensions
Court says B.C. superintendent of motor vehicle has the power to consider new evidence
The B.C. Liberal government’s much-ballyhooed, tough-as-nails approach to drunk driving has again run afoul of the B.C. Supreme Court.
In a 29-page decision, Justice Peter Voith sharply scolded the superintendent of motor vehicles for wrongly interpreting the law to prohibit drivers from introducing fresh evidence during an appeal of an immediate roadside prohibition.
“Let us assume, for the moment, that the new evidence secured by the petitioner unequivocally established that the approved screening device used to secure a breath sample from him had been defective,” he said. “The position of the superintendent would still, necessarily, be that the superintendent lacked the means or jurisdiction to reconsider the decision. That position would be unnecessarily rigid and give rise to real injustice.”
Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee, a specialist in the pioneering, heavy-handed legislation, hailed the ruling because drivers have only a brief period to challenge a suspension and scant time to gather evidence.
“Now any person who lost their hearing and can find new evidence after the fact that couldn’t have been obtained for the hearing will be able to write to the superintendent and ask that they have a new hearing on the new evidence,” said Lee, who acted in the case.