What this big IRP Court decision means to you
The court decision from last Friday was the really big IRP news that we’d been waiting for since last summer. We think it’s the most important Supreme Court IRP decision so far because it has the greatest chance of relieving the greatest number of people from their IRP. Now it’s time to explain what this big IRP court decision means to you.
In the Wilson case, the court ruled that in order for an officer to issue a “Warn” IRP, (i.e. 3, 7 or 30 days on the basis of a “Warn” blow on an ASD) the officer had to have a reasonable opinion that the driver’s ability to drive was “affected” by alcohol. This is what it says in the Motor Vehicle Act. It isn’t a high standard. It exists as one of the few protections in a legal scheme that is otherwise distinctly lacking when it comes to protecting people from arbitrary state action.
When Wilson came out, we knew that the time had come to advance this argument for 90-day prohibitions. We argued this before the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles in our first IRP hearing when the law came out in 2010. The OSMV rejected our argument and made it clear to us that they would never accept it. Now, with the Wilson decision in hand and the Murray decision just affirmed, it was the time to bring it to court.
We filed the Petition in the Richardson case and, after a few adjournments because of a shortage of court time, we got the matter on. The Justice clearly understood the point and the urgency of a speedy decision, bearing in mind the number of people potentially affected. She rendered her decision on Valentines Day, February 14, 2014.
It was an oral decision, so we have no written version of it yet. The Government wants to appeal it, so they’ll order a copy of the judges decision and pay for transcription. We expect that they’ll rush this one.
What this big IRP Court decision means to you:
Many people will be able to now appeal their IRP review decision and get the IRP lifted from their record. If you’re serving your IRP, you should talk to a lawyer right away. If you’ve got one of those nasty letters referring you to the so-called “remedial programs” such as the Responsible Driver Program, you should talk to a lawyer now. If you’re successful, the BC Government is going to write you a cheque.
Who does this affect?
The people most likely to succeed are those who paid the $100 or $200 to driver services for a review of their IRP. If you did, and a hearing was conducted and you lost, there is a very good chance that you can turn it around. We think that thousands of people will fall into this category. If you think this is you, send us an email.
What about our clients?
It turns out we won so many IRP reviews in the last few months that only a handful of our clients will need to go this route to succeed in lifting their IRPs. We’ve been looking through the files over the weekend. We will be calling people in the next few days. If you don’t hear from us, contact the lawyer in our office who handled your case.
What if you weren’t our client, and you fought your IRP and lost?
We’re also taking on cases that were handled by other lawyers or where people were self-represented. Dealing with the tribunal at the OSMV without a lawyer is tantamount to performing surgery on yourself. If you botched it, we’re glad you’re still alive. We might be able to fix it for you.
Because we find the IRP law revolting in so many respects, we made it our goal to be the very best we could be at taking on Immediate Roadside Prohibitions. There are many great lawyers in the province, but none doing things the way we do. If you challenged your IRP with another lawyer, and you want us to see if we can turn a loss to a success, we’re happy to do so.
What about old IRPs?
We think this applies to old IRPs. But we’re going to cover that more in a blog post later this week (time permitting).
What about the Government’s appeal?
We’re confident that we will succeed.
In some respects the argument is the same as in Murray, the first IRP case at the Supreme Court of Canada. So we think they’re wasting their time and your tax money by appealing.
What will the police do about this?
We know what they’re going to do. It will be interesting to see how we can use this to defend IRPs in the future. Our win rate right now is already really good. We think the “fix” they intend to introduce is full of holes.
And IRP review hearings are about to become even more complex.