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Vancouver Criminal Law Blog

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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The many problems of roadside drug screening

roadside drug screening

Earlier this year, the Federal Government invited 24 police officers across Canada to test a pair of devices that claim to screen drug-impaired drivers. The roadside drug screening evaluations were conducted between December 18, 2016 and March 6, 2017 and included several officers from the Vancouver Police Department. Two devices were selected for the pilot test: the Securetec DrugRead and the Alere DDS-2. Both of these devices had been previously tested for reliability with positive results. As a result, Public Safety Canada determined both the devices were reliable and set about using them on the road.[pullquote]Positive readings were more likely to...

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IRP adjudicator neglected to consider important evidence

Failure to consider important evidence?

This week we had another significant decision from the BC Supreme Court concerning how Immediate Roadside Prohibition adjudicators are to assess evidence. In this case, the court determined an IRP adjudicator neglected to consider important evidence in rendering her decision.  The evidence that the adjudicator failed to address in her reasons was a significant piece of evidence that called into question a police officer’s credibility. The adjudicator has been ordered to conduct another review. The case was appealed to BC Supreme Court by Kyla Lee. It involved a client who applied for a review after receiving a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition....

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Unprepared IRP adjudicators could hurt drivers

Unprepared IRP adjudicators

A recent case argued in the BC Supreme Court by our own Kyla Lee affirms what we have said all along: Immediate Roadside Prohibition adjudicators may not be sufficiently prepared in the areas of law they preside over. In this case, the court identified an adjudicator's lack of understanding of the law that could have resulting in serious consequences to our client. In our view, the adjudicator’s understanding of the law was sufficiently flawed that the judge directed the adjudicator to review case law on the issue. Who or what is an IRP adjudicator? An IRP adjudicator is a person delegated by the Superintendent of...

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The Civil Resolution Tribunal, a.k.a. Small Petty Claims Court

The backroom where the action happens at the CRT

Starting on June 1, 2017, BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal will begin to hear small claims disputes under $5,000. The Civil Resolution Tribunal has been the subject of a lot of ridicule in our office because it's years past its original launch date, we hear it's well over budget, its merely duplicating what is basically already covered by small claims court and finally and most importantly because it lacks the fact-finding methods of a real court. Being a tribunal, we worry that independence of the tribunal will be a problem as we've seen with the OSMV.  It may also encourage nuisance...

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Bad laws written by bad governments

Bad government omits lawyers from the discussion of new laws

This week, several MPs tweeted about their participation in roundtable discussions with Jody Wilson-Raybould and other “stakeholders” in criminal justice reform. But best we can tell defence counsel were not invited to have a seat at any of those roundtables. Despite the fact that we come up with sensible and workable solutions to plenty of criminal justice problems, and despite the fact that defence counsel are clearly stakeholders in the system of criminal justice, the Government never wants to hear our voices, thoughts, or ideas.[pullquote]We would have fewer constitutional challenges, better and stronger laws, and a more effective and efficient court system...

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High standards for proving drug impaired driving prohibitions

Drivin high?

Late last week we had a significant successful decision in BC Supreme Court for a client who was pulled over by Vancouver police for “slow driving,” before being given a 24-hour prohibition for allegedly driving while affected by drugs. In this case, the officer never found any drugs on our client or among his possessions. Instead, the Vancouver police relied on the smell of “fresh marihuana,” the presence of marijuana grinders, and a bottle of eye drops to make their case. It was not lost on the court that the officer had “no explanation” as to why our client was pulled...

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Integrity of the IRP system at stake

What's in the papers?

The past week marks another step in our ongoing quest to expose the true functioning of the IRP scheme and to protect the integrity of our justice system. Back in November 2015, Kyla received a package back from the government on a Freedom of Information request containing information that questioned the integrity of BC’s IRP system. Inside the package were pages of confidential material the Government didn’t want us to see (known as the Victoria Papers). The material included a conversation where a lawyer working for the Ministry of Justice appeared to give orders to an IRP adjudicator describing how she...

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More fishy stuff at RoadSafetyBC

We’ve written a lot about RoadSafetyBC delaying rendering IRP review decisions. One of the problems with the ongoing backlog of decisions is that as time goes on, memory fades, witnesses disappear, friends move on, and evidence becomes harder to obtain. It’s one of the reasons we have so many concerns with the delay in rendering decisions. This past week, we discovered yet another problem with the delay issue that impacts your right to a fair hearing. We received a number of letters from RoadSafetyBC all at once. The letters indicate, for a substantial number of clients, that the adjudicator who initially heard...

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Lawyers working in the public interest

Failure of checks and balances

If you weren't aware of it before, the last few months have given many a new understanding of lawyers working in the public interest. The reality is that working for the public interest is common for tens of thousands lawyers around the world for much or most of their work day. But the Trump administration has brought to the public attention the importance of public interest advocacy. A quick discussion of politics and history are required as a background to this post. We often speak of checks and balances to our system of democracy. The idea is that if you allow too...

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