B.C.’s Supreme Court made another change to the review process of the province’s tough automatic roadside prohibition scheme.
Justyn Stenner was stopped in his vehicle in the early hours of June 3, 2014. After admitting to drinking, police asked him to provide a breath sample.
After making six unsuccessful attempts to provide a breath sample, he was then given a 90-day suspension, a $500 fine, and his vehicle was impounded for 30 days.
Stenner later found out that the type of breathalyzer used at his stop could have been faulty, but he could not use this new evidence to repeal his suspension.
Stenner took the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to court, arguing for a new hearing.
Kyla Lee, Stenner’s lawyer, argued that the narrow timelines of the scheme – drivers must appeal their suspension within 7 days and final decision must be made within 21 days – are stacked in favour of the police.
“If anybody wanted to get information or documents or materials through a freedom of information request, that’s material’s provided on a 30 business day timeline, which means it’s impossible to get in time for the review hearing.”
In his decision, Justice Voith agreed, saying this restriction was “unnecessarily rigid”. He ruled that the Superintendent should review cases in appropriate circumstances if there is fresh evidence.
Kyla Lee is happy with the decision.
“This decision is excellent because it allows an opportunity for people who can obtain this evidence that will show they were innocent and show that there was something done incorrectly to have an avenue of redress.”
She added that this additional review process will not create a backlog of cases for the Superintendent to review.
“We’ve had the opportunity in the courts for cases always to apply for to be re-opened where there’s been fresh evidence and that hasn’t led to a deluge in the courts.”
The automatic roadside prohibition statutory scheme was introduced in British Columbia in 2010, and has faced numerous legal challenges since its formation.