A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled public safety temporarily trumps charter rights when it comes to provincial drunk driving laws.
Justice Jon Sigurdson ruled earlier this month that the law around immediate roadside prohibitions, also known as the IRPs, for those who blow over .08 on a screening device was unconstitutional.
But on Friday, Sigurdson ruled that his declaration will be delayed until June 30, 2012.
"Accordingly, I have concluded that an immediate declaration of invalidity of part of the IRP regime may pose a danger to the public."
B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond praised the judge’s decision in a statement Friday, saying the government will work to introduce changes to the Motor Vehicle Act as soon as possible in the spring legislative session.
Bond also noted that Sigurdson, “upheld the constitutionality of the immediate 90-day prohibition for those who refuse to provide a breath sample at roadside when requested to do so by a police officer.
“The [prohibition] program has also been found to be constitutionally valid by the court for those who blow in the warn range of 0.05 to 0.08,” Bond said.
The law in question allowed police to issue immediate roadside suspensions of up to 90 days for those who blow over .08. It also imposed fines and penalties of up to $4,000, something the judge ruled was too onerous without a meaningful appeal process.
Bond said the government won't give up its fight to remove impaired drivers from the road, pointing to figures that show the number of impaired driving deaths dropped by 45 over the last year compared to previous years.
Lawyers who challenged the law want all the penalties imposed under it reversed and the criminal records of the drivers wiped clean, while a lawyer for the government has asked Sigurdson to delay any action until the legislation is changed.
Sigurdson has reserved judgment on the issue.