Thursday, April 29, 2010

Piling on in the Great White North

Now I have railed on against the administrative license suspensions imposed by the Texas Department of Public Safety on motorists who were merely charged with drunk driving. I've seen the theater of the absurd in which a client whose case was dismissed for lack of probable cause still have to deal with a six-month license suspension because an administrative law judge couldn't figure out the law (maybe he could find it with a flashlight and two hands).

The traffic laws in the Canadian province of Ontario make our administrative penalties look tame in comparison. At least down here we get a hearing before our clients lose their licenses. Not so up in the Great White North.

To do away with that nasty little problem of motorists challenging DWI charges in court (and sometimes winning), the Ontario government decided to impose immediate sanctions on any driver who blows between a .05 and a .08. For the moment I guess we will need to erase from our brains the fact that the per se definition of intoxication in Canada is the same as in the good ol' US of A -- an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

If a driver has an alcohol concentration in the prescribed range, his or her driver's license will be suspended for three (3) days and a $150 fine will be imposed -- on the spot. Should it happen again in the next five years -- say goodbye to your driver's license for seven (7) days, pay another fine and prepare for some mandatory alcohol counseling. If it happens a third time the driver will lose his license for 30 days, pay a fine, attend some more mandatory alcohol counseling and have an ignition interlock device installed on his car.

There is no due process. No hearing. No conviction required

Not to be outdone, the legislature in British Columbia has decided to create another set of administrative sanctions for motorists who are alleged to have an alcohol concentration of greater than .08. These proposed sanctions will allow the B.C. government to do what we do oh so well in the states, punish those accused of drunk driving more than once for the same offense.

A special thanks to Erik Magraken and Edward Prutschi for the source material in this post.

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