Reverse drunk driving penalties: lawyer

A lawyer representing drivers caught up by a B.C. law ruled unconstitutional wants fines and penalties repaid and the drivers’ records wiped clean.

VANCOUVER — A lawyer representing drivers caught up by a B.C. law ruled unconstitutional wants fines and penalties repaid and the drivers’ records wiped clean.

More than 15,000 drivers were fined and penalized after blowing over .08.

Lawyer Howard Mickelson told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson on Monday that because the law is unconstitutional, everything that flows from it needs to be declared invalid.

“The law was invalid from the outset and those caught up have a right to redress,” he told court.

Mickelson calls the request by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to leave penalties and fines in place “absurd,” saying all the punishments resulted from the bad law.

All those drivers should have their records cleared and the fines repaid. That shouldn’t only apply to those drivers who have signalled an intention sue for remedy, he said.

“I believe all of them should enjoy the benefit of the declaration of invalidity and the same relief.”

Earlier this month, Sigurdson ruled that a portion of B.C.’s year-old laws to crack down on drunk driving violated Charter protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Sigurdson concluded drivers who blew over .08 in a roadside screening test were subjected to having their vehicles impounded and forced to pay up to several thousand dollars in fines without having recourse to a meaningful appeals process.

But the judge also upheld most of the law, including new punishments for those who blow over .05.

Mickelson said the decision must be read to be retroactive to 2010 when the automatic roadside suspensions were launched.

The government has said the law allowing automatic roadside suspensions has saved lives since the rules were enacted.