This radio station through a lot of research and feed back from their listeners has determined that there is a real need and a desire by Albertans to be kept aware of current legal issues and legislation that is being passed, not only by the Alberta Government but by the Canadian Government.
So in order to help out in that regard we came up with an idea for a radio show called the “Legal Brief” and as part of that I will attempt to explain current legal issues, current developments in the law and other cases which are before the courts and cases in which people are interested in.
In many instances the average person just doesn’t understand how profoundly decisions in the Courts or especially Legislative Decisions by their Government affects them on a daily basis. People are very busy with their own lives and they just don’t have the time to read and be up on all of the legal issues that affect them.
So we are going to try and change that here at the Legal Brief and we hope that the listeners find it, not only informative but interesting too.
So therefore one of the first discussions that we are going to have is about the very controversial new impaired driving measures introduced by the Government which is commonly known as; Premier Redford’s point zero 5 law. We hope you tune in for that.
Premier Redford’s Impaired Driving Legislation – The .05 Law
Beginning in July 2012 with the second part of it implemented in September 2012 the Alberta Government brought in what is commonly referred to as the point zero five law.
What the law says is that if you are stopped by the police and you provide a sample into an approved screening device and you blow between .05 and .08 that you are deemed to be over the Alberta Legal Limit and immediate sanctions and penalties therefore occur.
These penalties include the seizing of your vehicle, a fine and other costs and charges in order to get your vehicle released from seizure. These measures were brought in, despite the fact that the Federal Government Criminal Code has set the legal limit of driving with alcohol in your blood at .08 and that is confirmed in the Canadian Criminal Code. These measures were sold to the Alberta Public by Premiere Redford and Minister McIver, by telling Albertans that people at .05 are impaired to drive. Well I’m here to tell you that both Redford and her minister should be given three Pinocchio’s for that and here is why:
The best scientific research on the issue of alcohol impairment confirms that some, but not all members of the public are impaired to drive at .08 and that all members of the public are deemed to be impaired to driver at 100 mg percent of alcohol in your blood. Almost NO one is impaired to drive at .05 percent. As a matter of fact the leading scientific study on this issue called the “Grande Rapids Study” which is the scientific study that all police and governments rely on in developing legislation, presents evidence by way of graphs produced in the study that at .05 the average person is only 1.3 times more likely then a sober person to be involved in an accident. What the study didn’t tell you and what the government is not saying is what is the likelihood of a sober person of having an accident and that is a critical fact to know. Because if the odds of a sober person are one in a million or even one in one hundred thousand of having an accident, then if you’re only 1.3 percent in 100,000 of having an accident then how can it be said that this is a factor which warrants quazi criminal legislation with severe penalties to deter it.
In my mind it is like passing a law that says people are not entitled to make a right turn on a red light on every third Sunday between 1:00 and 2:00 AM. In other words you are trying to deter such a remote thing from happening it’s not worth the legislative paper it is written on.
So the question must be asked then why would this law be passed? Well the one thing we do know about the law is that every violation brings with it lots of very expensive fines, costs, charges and fees that you have to pay in full before you get your licence back, and who do you think gets that revenue, well you guessed it. So when you take that into account it’s not hard to figure out that this law is not at all about road safety, it’s all about the money.
Traffic Violation Tickets
A big source of revenue for a government including the Alberta Government is the revenue that is gained from the police writing traffic violation tickets. The traffic ticket infrastructure in this Province is set up, not based on the fact that people have a right to fight each and every ticket that they are given, but the infrastructure is based on the fact that the vast majority of people will not fight a ticket and will just pay it. As a matter of fact, I have been advised by a Government source, that if a mere 2 to 3 percent more people actually fought their ticket as opposed to paying them then the entire system would be overloaded to the point of not being able to function properly.
Now full disclosure here, I do as part of my Practice deal with traffic tickets but that is precisely why I have done the research on this point and feel it is important to speak to you about.
The really scary thing about tickets especially speeding tickets is the technology for both radar and laser guns are always subject to mistakes. In a report recently released in the United Kingdom following an investigative study done by one of the major newspapers, they reported that after rigorous scientific testing done on the radar device called an LTI 20/20 which is the primary type of radar used in Canada and the U.S. the paper reported that the speed guns and the laser gun were prone to wild inaccuracy. Speed detection devices and especially laser guns can be affected by a number of things including electrical interference by the officer accidentally targeting the wrong vehicle and by faulty calibration, all of which will provide unreliable results. We are always reminded about the famous case out of Florida called Florida v. Aguilera where 80 speeding tickets were thrown out by a Judge when it was discovered in evidence that the radar device used had clocked a Palm tree doing 86 miles an hour.
So when you get a ticket especially a speeding ticket and especially one which will result in demerit points and an insurance increase I recommend that you don’t just pay that ticket fight that ticket.
The Blind Offender
Even though I stated it wasn’t really my intention to talk about specific cases before the court at least most of the time, there was a recent decision out of Calgary which is created a lot of public debate.
In that case a man was recently sentenced on a charge of sexual assault for groping a woman while she lay sleeping. In just about every case like this the offender would be sentenced to jail. But in this case he wasn’t sentenced to jail but was sentenced to house arrest. The reason, the offender was a blind man. Now at first blush, this seems to be a soft and ridiculously low sentence, but let’s just think about this for a minute. During the Sentencing it was proven by the Defence that none of the jails in Alberta have any facilities to deal with blind offenders and they don’t allow for guardian dogs in the prison facilities.
One then has to ask; how could this person be expected to find his spot at the dinner table or even to find their cell in order to go to bed? This is not even to mention what kind of treatment the offender would get from other inmates. How easily would it be for someone to assault this person knowing full well that they could not be identified by him? The other issue would be – how easy would it be to steal his personal belongings or even his food off of his plate at meal times? And don’t think for a minute that there aren’t other inmates who would do that.
Rather than criticize this sentence as being flimsy, flaky or light, both the sentence and the sentencing Judge should be complemented for compassion and common sense shown by them in this case in a day and age when the only thing the public seems to call for is being tough on crime no matter what the facts are.