October 31, 2013 - 4:30 PM
VERNON - In B.C., you don’t necessarily have to be behind the wheel to get a drunk driving charge, something a Sorrento grandfather found out the hard way.
Peter Norman, 64, was the sole passenger of a vehicle being driven by his grandson, who had his Learner’s license, when they went through a police road check this past June. Norman admits he had a few beers earlier that day, and when police ordered him out of the car and gave him breathalyzer test, he blew over the legal limit. It cost him big time: over $2,000 in towing, administration, storage fees, and a mandatory responsible driver program. He also lost his licence for 90 days.
It’s a situation Norman’s defense lawyer Paul Doroshenko says B.C.’s drinking and driving law was never meant for.
“The IRP (Immediate Roadside Prohibition) scheme was never intended to punish the supervisor, but to be a remedial program for drunk drivers,” Doroshenko says. “There is no right... for police to demand a passenger to provide a sample (into a) screening device. It is an unlawful demand.”
According to ICBC, ‘L’ drivers must have a “qualified supervisor, in the front seat, 25 or older, who has a valid driver's licence.” There’s no mention of sobriety in ICBC’s guide for ‘L’ drivers or in its list of frequently asked questions.
“There are no legislative requirements for GLP (graduated licensing) supervisors to be sober,” Sam MacLeod, Superintendent of Motor Vehicles stated in email correspondence. “However, the responsibility of supervising a new driver is a serious one and ideally that support would not be hindered by alcohol or drugs.”
But Doroshenko says stripping a man who has a clean driving record of his licence because he drank a few beers and didn't drive is pretty severe.
“I think lots of parents would think ‘my 18-year-old is a responsible driver, if I go out and have two glasses of wine, why is it inappropriate for me to let this responsible person drive?’” Doroshenko says.
He adds that under the Motor Vehicle Act, a supervisor clearly does not constitute a driver, so he’s shocked Norman was ever asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Norman has filed a complaint with the RCMP and the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, but it’s too late for him to appeal his case in court.
“The one thing that really gets me is not just this, but other cases that are the same, is the seven day window (for an appeal),” Doroshenko says. “What would be wrong with 30 days? The evidence won’t change or disappear.”
He says it’s a very short window for people who are unfamiliar with the system and probably not aware of the short deadline.
“It’s like nobody’s read it (legislation), no one’s thought about the fairness of only seven days,” Doroshenko says.
“This (seven days) is the most draconian and dirty piece of legislation I can possibly conceive of.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013