A B.C. Supreme Court ruling that a portion of British Columbia’s drinking and driving legislation is unconstitutional doesn’t faze the head of the Oceanside RCMP.
Staff Sergeant Brian Hunter said Thursday the ruling will have a minimal impact on policing over the holiday season.
Although the ruling upheld the bulk of the province’s drinking and driving legislation, it did rule the automatic roadside suspension provisions result in unreasonable search and seizure and gives too much power to the police and allows for no appeal mechanism. Hunter said he welcomes the ruling.
“The courts have made it clear there should be an avenue for people to appeal the process if they fail a roadside screening test,” he said. “I don’t necessarily disagree with that … I do agree with the constitution and our rights in Canada and I believe the province is going to get a mechanism for a proper appeal.”
Hunter said police will continue to enforce drinking and driving laws in the Oceanside area, and will follow the spirit of the ruling.
“We are going to continue to go with the Counter Attack program and make the community a safe place to drive. We will still give the 24-hour prohibition to folks who fail the roadside screening devices.”
Rather than making it more difficult for police to do their job, he said, the ruling will tighten up the legislation, making it more workable and fair.
“At the end of the day what it is going to do is tighten up the whole process, where there will be an appeal procedure — which we are entitled to as Canadians.”
Hunter strongly defended the overall legislation.
“Statistics show a decrease of 40 per cent for alcohol-related deaths in the province. That works out to 45 lives that have been saved in the last year. Who was that? Was it me? Was it you? Was it my wife or a family of five driving to the Kootenays to visit family over the holidays?”