The Kamloops representative for Mothers Against Drunk Driving said she isn't surprised that one in five impaired drivers who challenge roadside bans have their penalties tossed out.

But she's less concerned with the potentially flawed adjudication process than with getting drunk drivers off the road.

"Lawyers will find any sort of way to get people off," said Roxanne Engli. "It's not always right and it's not a foolproof system. But we have ways of getting people off the road and we're not using them so we should really be ashamed of ourselves."

The Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles indicated this week that 22 per cent of those receiving roadside prohibitions last year got off without a penalty.

Last year, the government amended the impaired driving legislation that was introduced in 2010.

Police are required to tell drivers they can have a second test on a different breathalyzer if they fail the first one. In the past, the second reading would prevail, but now the lower of the two readings does.

The changes were aimed at bringing the law into compliance with a court ruling that concluded those accused of drunk driving had their rights violated due to their inability to challenge roadside screening tests, and to the lack of a proper appeal mechanism.

Engli supports the ruling.

"People should get their fair treatment," she said. "If you take one roadside screening and you're not told you can take another one and the calibration is off, well, certainly that's a valid thing."

What MADD Canada is pushing for is random breath testing, which would see roadblocks set up where each driver is stopped and given a roadside screening test.

"I believe we're all sitting ducks unless we push for this," she said.

Since $2 billion of Canadian funds are spent on dealing with crashes involving alcohol, the cost of such a program would be outweighed by its savings, she argues.

And for civil libertarians who believe authorities have no right to collect samples without cause, Engli equates the measure to taking off shoes at an airport.

"Driving is a privilege, not a right," she said.

MADD Canada's statistics shows that eight out of 10 impaired drivers going through a road check will not be detected. It also indicates that individuals can drive drunk twice a week for five years before being caught.

However, B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the new legislation has been effective in keeping impaired people out of their cars.

Source: The Daily News


Last updated on: 2013-08-17 | Link to this post