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Vancouver Criminal Law Blog
Acumen Law Corporation > Blog (Page 5)

Don’t trust the breathalyzer?

Trust the breathalyzer?

Regularly we represent clients who refused to blow because they don't trust the breathalyzer. We get it. We don't trust the breathalyzer either, generally speaking. But as a strategy to deal with the police in a DUI investigation, refusing to blow because you don't trust the breathalyzer is a mistake. Here's why.[pullquote]How many people blew into this breathalyzer in the weeks and months before they identified this problem? Nobody knows.[/pullquote] Don't trust the breathalyzer The breathalyzers we use in BC for Immediate Roadside Prohibitions were never intended be relied on for the basis of punishment. They're described as "Approved Screening Devices" because...

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Ian Mulgrew: FOI a sham when it comes to anti-drunk-driving law

FOI a Sham

Freedom of Information in this province is becoming a farce when a request for material on anti-impaired driving measures produces little more than “Good morning” salutations. About a year ago the B.C. government introduced changes to the controversial Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme that allows the superintendent of motor vehicles to rely on its own “technical materials” in dismissing a motorist’s defence. The superintendent’s office now can prepare evidence and use it to reject submissions from drivers appealing the tough penalties handed out by police. The law allows the “independent” adjudicators, who work for the government, to rely on “technical, medical or scientific evidence...

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The secret of how they decide your IRP

The Government Doesn’t Want you to Know How They Decide Your IRP

The results of a request we made for RoadSafetyBC documents shows clearly that the Government doesn’t want you to know how they decide your IRP. You may remember that the Government amended the IRP scheme to allow the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to rely on his own self-made evidence, called “technical materials” about a year ago.[pullquote]When do citizens have the right to know the case against them? Isn’t that a principle of a fair hearing?[/pullquote] You may also remember that the Government wrote the law so that the Superintendent could do this in response to “issues raised by the applicant,” or...

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No slack for amateurs

No slack for amateurs at IRP hearings

It's important to remember, if you're charged with an offence or you've been issued an IRP, that the Government is your adversary. They're not out to help you, they don't want you to succeed and in fact, from their perspective your desire for justice is an impediment to their goals. The Government is your opponent.[pullquote]You might think you have a great defence to an IRP. You might decide it's so good that...

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Establishing facts in an IRP case

Missing evidence

Crucial in any litigation is establishing facts. In criminal law a defence lawyer may simply need to call into question the facts that the prosecutor is attempting to prove. Not so in Immediate Roadside Prohibition cases. Establishing facts in an IRP case is much more complex and failure to do it right is often the difference between success and failure on review.[pullquote]Do-it-yourselfers beware.[/pullquote] On Tuesday I was in BC Supreme Court when Kyla received another successful decision in an IRP judicial review. Her client tried to do his own IRP review hearing before the RoadSafetyBC tribunal. He had great facts and...

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Bad taste in my mouth

Bad taste in my mouth

Back in January, a challenge was made to some unsuccessful IRP decisions. What had happened — and some of our readers were in this situation — was that following the Wilson and Richardson decisions from the BC Supreme Court, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles stopped rendering decisions.[pullquote][T]he circumstantial evidence referred to by the petitioner leaves a bad taste in the mouth which simply does not go away on the basis of a consideration of all of the evidence.[/pullquote] Almost everyone who received an IRP and made arguments based on Wilson and Richardson received a letter from the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles...

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Stupid and they knew it

Stupid

The Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme has been a series of failures right from the start. One of the dumbest things that the BC Government did with the IRP scheme was to make everyone who was issued a 90-day driving prohibition get an interlock in their car for a year. It was stupid and they knew it, but they needed to rely on a stupid move to get support for their law.[pullquote]After a very reasonable period of time, we took them to court. We brought an action to force them to do their job.[/pullquote] Intentional deception The IRP law never said that everyone...

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Trust in the police

Trust in the police

We were in BC Supreme Court the other day and the judge expressed exasperation at the errors made by the police. How could they screw this up so badly? We have the answer to that: police make mistakes, just like everyone else (perhaps with greater frequency?), and not every utterance made by a cop is true.[pullquote]There is a strange yet widely held belief that police are somehow more essential and therefore more deserving of respect than the general population.[/pullquote] We were actually surprised by the question. You see, we deal with police every day because we handle a lot of driving cases...

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Are the police lying?

Are police lying?

We like most of the police officers we deal with in the course of our work. Despite a few notable exceptions, most police officers are thoughtful intelligent and balanced, and they contribute through their work to our community.[pullquote]To assume that the police don't lie is mechanism to teach them to lie. If we accept what they say without question, there is no check on their honesty and nothing to encourage truthfulness.[/pullquote] We're not suggesting that any great reverence should be paid to the police. They get paid for their job and they do their job just like anyone else. And like...

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How we gave up the presumption of innocence

How we gave up the presumption of innocence

It's time as Canadians that we recognize a particular point in our history when we tossed aside the legal mantra that you are innocent until proven guilty. For generations we enjoyed the expansion of legal rights. We used to intrinsically understand that governments pose the biggest threat to our liberty and so we placed restrictions on their power. Now, however, we're moving in the other direction. Perhaps we became complacent? Perhaps this generation no longer understands the value of legal rights and the threat posed by the state?[pullquote]Governments keep trying to outlaw sex in some manner or another with limited...

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