Article by Janice Johnston, CBC News
The Alberta Court of Appeal has struck down a section of the province’s Traffic Safety Act that allows immediate and mandatory suspension for anyone charged with impaired driving.
In a split decision, Alberta’s highest court ruled the current law violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because it ignores the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial before any punishment is imposed.
In the majority 41-page decision, Justice Frans Slatter wrote that there are two things that can be said about the administrative licence suspension regime.
“The first is that it is clearly effective,” Slatter said. “The second thing that can be said … is that it was designed without any consideration for constitutional values underlying the Canadian legal system.”
Justice Marina Paperny wrote a dissenting opinion. She essentially argued Section 88.1 isn’t a charter issue because there is no constitutional right to drive.
Won’t take effect for one year
Even though the law has been declared unconstitutional, it will remain in place for one year to give the government time to change it or ask for the issue to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said in a written statement Thursday afternoon that roadside suspensions “will remain in force” for the time being “and police will still be able to issue them to drivers who are charged with impaired driving offences over the next year.”