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Vancouver Criminal Law Blog

Why it’s so easy for police to bust dial-a-dope operations

dial-a-dope

The law takes dial-a-dope drug offences seriously. It’s considered a category separate from what’s generally referred to as “street level” dealing, where a dealer hangs out on a corner and is approached by prospective customers looking to buy. Dial-a-dope operations are different. The courts consider these drug lines as commercial operations that exist to bring drugs to all corners of the market, even to areas not traditionally known for drug consumption. Dial-a-dope operations are kind of like food-delivery for drugs. A customer places a call to their local dial-a-dope operator, who drives out to an arranged meeting location for the exchange....

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Police used the same breathalyzer for my second sample

breathalyzers

We were disappointed to see a decision in the BC Supreme Court in June that held police do not have to offer the full details of the rights available to someone who blew their first fail into an Approved Screening Device. In BC, if police demand a breath sample on suspicion of drug or alcohol impairment and you blow a “warn” or “fail,” you have a right to provide another breath sample, into a different breathalyzer. Police are required to accept the lower result of the two. Unfortunately, police are only required to tell you that you can provide another breath...

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Walk in a line: three co-ordination tests used to check sobriety

SFST

Until legislation is introduced giving police officers new ways to determine whether a driver is impaired by drugs, one of the more common tools at police disposal remains the Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). The internationally used test falls into three parts: a check for involuntary eye movement, walking and turning in a line, and the one-leg stand. You’re scored on these tests based on a number of “clues” an officer ticks off when looking for things like whether you were able to balance for 30 seconds, or if you “went off the line” during the walk and turn. The steps that...

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Stupid statements made at the roadside: are they considered evidence of drunk driving?

stupid statements made at the roadside

So you’ve been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. In your haste, you make a few stupid statements to the officer at the roadside and now the officer is alleging you have driven after consuming too much alcohol. If the case goes to court, can those stupid statements be used to incriminate you? Often, those statements may be found inadmissible in court. Whether these statements can be used depends on a few factors. In one case, a driver was charged with impaired driving and driving with a blood alcohol level over .08. One of the issues raised on appeal had to...

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What does Stroh Health Care do with BC drivers’ personal information?

Stroh Health Care

It’s been more than 10 years since BC Government first contracted Stroh Health Care to operate the province’s Responsible Driver Program. This $930 per-head program is a mandatory course for anyone who receives a driving prohibition after blowing a “FAIL” result on a breathalyzer, or two “WARN” results. Stroh Health Care has had tens of thousands of BC drivers take its course since 2005. As a result, these guys go through a lot of personal information from BC drivers. For one, all of their staff who deal with RDP program participants will likely know the names of these drivers, know that they had been...

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24-hour driving prohibitions for alcohol vs. 24-hour driving prohibitions for drugs

24-hour driving prohibitions

The Motor Vehicle Act permits a police officer to issue a driver a 24-hour driving prohibition for alcohol or a 24-hour prohibition for drugs. In both cases the time period is the same which suggests that these are similar driving prohibitions. But when it comes to alcohol vs. drugs, the law is very different. In fact, when it comes to 24-hour driving prohibitions, the procedure, evidence and review are almost incomparable. The BC Motor Vehicle Act clearly sets out two different subsections to address drug-impaired and alcohol-impaired driving. These two subsections have fundamental differences. If you are issued a 24-hour driving...

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When are you considered medically unfit to drive?

Medically Unfit to Drive

We talk a lot about driving prohibitions for traffic tickets or for drunk driving here in BC. But there’s another area not often discussed by BC’s driving community, and that’s a driving prohibition due to being medically unfit to drive. Generally, this means that RoadSafetyBC has determined that due to a driver’s health condition, they are no longer permitted to get behind a steering wheel. Under the powers of the Motor Vehicle Act, RoadSafetyBC can prohibit a person from driving if it considers doing so may be in the public interest, a term the courts have generally determined to mean public...

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Lawyers acting in the interest of justice

Homeless in tent city

Those unfamiliar with the work of lawyers sometimes believe that only people who have lots of money can afford to hire lawyers. This cannot be further from the truth. At Acumen Law we believe in keeping costs low for our clients while maximizing the amount we achieve. We are lawyers because we believe in the interest of justice. We believe that everyone who finds themselves face-to-face with the judicial system should have their best interests represented. This means that we sometimes take on pro-bono cases if it's in the interest of justice and for a larger cause. Recently, Acumen lawyer Stephanie Skinner...

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Driving prohibitions incoming from 2017 traffic enforcement blitzes

Notice of Intent to Prohibit

We’ve recently received word that many driving prohibitions are now being issued as a result of high-intensity traffic enforcement blitzes by police earlier this year. Police have been busy. Just in Burnaby alone, an enforcement blitz in March resulted in 764 distracted-driving tickets. That same month, on a single day, Victoria police conducted a blitz that resulted in “at least 100 tickets” for cellphone related offences. And over the May long weekend, a BC wide enforcement blitz was conducted. It traditionally results in more than 1,000 speeding tickets issued over a few days. Many drivers caught at the time paid these...

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When can police arrest me for being drunk in public?

Drunk in public

It’s the early hours of Saturday morning in downtown Vancouver. Even the stragglers are starting to head home after a night of drinking. They pour out of bars and nightclubs in a tapering trickle, like the last drops in a good bottle of scotch. Some hail taxis, hop on a bus or head down the steps into a SkyTrain station. Others walk home. Here’s where the issue begins. Many of those heading home will be in varying states of inebriation. Perhaps enough so to be considered drunk in public, or intoxicated in a public place, as it’s called by the...

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