DAILY NEWS Jan 18, 2013 2:55 PM - 3 comments

B.C. government reviewing 1,200 files on impaired drivers

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The British Columbia government is conducting a review of about 1,200  drivers referred to remedial programs under its impaired driving laws, after some drivers petitioned for a judicial review.

Drinking and drivingThe review by the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (OSMV) affects some drivers who were referred to remedial programs under the province’s Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program just before a November 2011 B.C. Supreme Court ruling, but whose referrals into the program were suspended.

The case, Sivia v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles), involved a challenge that argued that parts of B.C.’s impaired driving laws infringed on several constitutional rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

While it largely upheld the province’s laws, the court ruled that there needed to be a better appeal process in place for those who blew over 0.08 on their blood alcohol level reading at roadside.

At that time, Justice Minister and Solicitor General Shirley Bond responded that government would take the judgment seriously and make necessary changes to legislation, but that much of the laws would remain in place and enforced.

The OSMV began referring drivers to “responsible driver and ignition interlock programs” in September 2012 and since then, “a small proportion” of drivers have submitted petitions seeking a judicial review of the requirement to take them.

The office is now reviewing about 1,200 files, whether or not the drivers petitioned for the review.

“Each individual’s driving record is being reviewed by the OSMV on its own merits,” the office said. “The superintendent will decide whether the individual has an unsatisfactory driving record that requires referral to remedial measures. Alcohol-related infractions are relevant to that review. The OSMV decided to undertake this review after considering the petitions that have been filed.”

It’s unclear how many drivers will be affected by the review, but some will likely not have to go through the remedial programs, the office said.

Other penalties that the drivers may have received at roadside aren’t affected by the review, the office said. The rest of the roadside program isn’t affected by this review, and the laws can be carried out as usual, the government said.

“As new, groundbreaking legislation, the immediate roadside prohibition program has been the subject of a significant number of challenges, and this situation is no different,” the office noted in a statement. “It has come to the superintendent’s attention, as a result of the petitions before the court, that there is an issue that needs to be addressed, and the superintendent is addressing it.”

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