Vancouver Criminal Law


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Peculiarities of the IRP Legal Limbo

Although the IRP law with respect to 90-day prohibitions for Fail was found to be unconstitutional, the law was left on the books until June. The Government argued that it was necessary to save lives. And the Court more or less accepted that argument. But the police stopped applying the IRP law, probably because they were uncomfortable using an unconstitutional law which might open them to liability. And it clearly was not needed to save lives because the drinking and driving stats in the last few months are the lowest in years. So we are in legal limbo. The law is...

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What Damage Did You Suffer from Your IRP?

When the BC Supreme Court ruled on November 30, 2011 that the 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme for Fail blows violates the Charter, many people contacted us looking for compensation for their loss. We asked everyone to sit tight because despite the ruling, we know the Government will do everything it can to avoid writing cheques. In the weeks that followed we learned that the Government intended to ask the Court to suspend the declaration that the law was invalid. Our view was that an unlawful law remaining in place would not be applied because it opened up the police to...

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Roadside Breath Tests Tainted by Police Negligence


One of our lawyers is a member of the California DUI Lawyer's Association, so we follow the goings on with drinking/driving law in the Golden State. The authorities there are now dealing with revelations of roadside breath tests tainted by improper calibration. Although much of the law is different, there are a few similarities. There is a movement to deciding matters with government tribunals. And there are always problems with breath-testing machines. Most recently the defence lawyers in San Fransisco revealed that the police had not been calibrating their Alco-Sensor IV roadside breath testers. This is a problem our office has...

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Tribunalization – Ousting the Courts

The BC Government wants to take matters from the court and give them to tribunals

The SPCA is angry at the Government. Their particular concern is that the Government is establishing a tribunal to deal with allegations under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, rather than having the matters dealt with in court. You can read their entire statement here, but this is an important excerpt: The BC SPCA says the proposed changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, introduced by the government today in Bill 24, have no benefits for animals in B.C. “We are very disappointed to see these amendments, which we believe will make it more difficult for the BC SPCA...

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Booze and Privatization

In the 2012 budget announcement Finance Minister Kevin Falcon indicated that the Government would privatize the liquor distribution warehouses in BC. The Government can thereby receive a one-time windfall in the sale of these assets and it no longer needs to manage the distribution of liquor to stores in BC. Whether you agree with this is largely an issue of ideology. It appears the process may be tainted by virtue of the involvement of lobbyists who donated money toward the Premier's campaign to lead the BCLiberal Party. You can read about that here. We suspect that this is the first step to...

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Kill the Breathalyzer

Kill the breathalyzer in BC

The Alco-Sensor IV, which is the roadside breathalyzer that we use in BC, is a sturdy, nicely-designed device that is well suited for its purpose, i.e. to screen drivers to determine who should be subject to breath tests on an evidentiary breath tester. One of the reasons that they should never be used to justify punishing people is that they tend to get dropped regularly. The usual mistake is to leave it on the roof or trunk lid of a police cruiser. When the officer hears it tumble off the car, there is a quick stop to retrieve the device. If...

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You Should Now Have Your License Back

If you received a 90-day IRP for blowing Fail, then there is no reason for you not to have your license back pending the outcome of the lead case that is still before the Court. The BC Government is planning to introduce legislation soon to address the Court decision that ruled that the IRP scheme violates the Charter of Rights. We should see what they have up their sleeve in the next few weeks. But as it stands, the entire case appears headed to the Court of Appeal so it may take months for this to be sorted out. In the meantime,...

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A Simple Plan

A simple plan but not a good plan

It started off with a simple plan -- take minor drunk driving cases out of court and instead rehabilitate the offenders. This makes sense. As we have discussed, for most non-violent crimes, community based measures, such as diversion to Alternative Measures, are very effective in deterring people from offending again. With respect to impaired driving there may be an alcohol problem that needs to be addressed, but rarely is a criminal conviction the best way to ensure that the person does not repeat the behaviour. This was the core idea that was the seed of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme. The focus...

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Any Suggestions?

Any suggestions for a drinking solution

Imagine for a moment that you are the provincial government. You have a serious problem that you must address: a significant number of people continue to drive while intoxicated. How do you deal with it? What's your drinking solution? In addition you have a number of confounding and frustrating impediments. The federal government is responsible for determining what is a criminal offence and writing the criminal law. But you, as the provincial government, must pay for the investigation, the prosecution and the courts. And it seems no matter how much effort you put into dealing with the problem, drinking and driving persists...

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Non-Violent Crime

Non-violent crime - Should you get a criminal record?

As criminal lawyers we deal with a variety of criminal offences. Some of our clients are charged with violent offences, like assault. Many of our clients, however, are charged with a non-violent crime such as theft, break and enter, mischief and lying to ICBC. This is not surprising, considering 79% of crimes in 2010 were non-violent.  Almost 60% of non-violent offences were either theft under $5000, break and enter, or mischief. The vast majority (over 98%) of our clients charged with a non-violent crime avoid a criminal record. We are often successful in having these charges resolved quietly in one way...

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