Police officers in B.C. could be facing the end of prohibitions.
A Supreme Court judge recently overturned an immediate three-day roadside prohibition issued to a driver who registered a blood alcohol level in the warning range between 0.05 and 0.08.
The driver, Lee Michael Wilson, admitted to drinking four beers a few hours before driving, but argued he was in no way impaired. Justice S. Dev Dley agreed, ruling that a ban based solely on a breathalyzer reading in the warning range was legally indefensible. "There was simply no evidence upon which the adjudicator could reasonably conclude that Mr. Wilsons' ability to drive was affected by alcohol," he wrote in his verdict.
The judgment may conflict with provincial laws that allow penalties including fines, suspensions, and vehicle impoundments for drivers who blow in the warning range.
While he is aware of the judgment, West Vancouver Police Department Const. Jeff Palmer said it would be business as usual on the streets of West Van. "It's a tool that's still available to us and we'll use it," he said of the immediate driving bans.
In many cases, those bans are levelled against drivers who seem unfit to drive, Palmer said. "People that are being subjected to removal from the road, typically what's drawing them to your attention is indication of impairment," he said.
Asked if the prohibitions were effective, Palmer replied: "Every tool has the potential to be an important tool if you're able to remove a driver."
The provincial government has the option of appealing the decision.
Said Palmer: "Unless or until we're otherwise directed, our officers will continue to enforce the immediate roadside prohibitions."
The RCMP's B.C. headquarters did not respond to interview requests.
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