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September 2015

British Columbia’s Drinking and Driving Laws

This is the second part of my paper on British Columbia’s Drinking and Driving laws. Part one appeared in the last issue of The Verdict (Fall 2013), Trial Lawyers Association of BC.

The Government appears to find it politically advantageous to proclaim that the IRP legislation represents the “strictest impaired driving laws around.” This claim simply isn’t true, at least as a general proposition. Those who have financial resources and don’t depend on driving for their employment are far less penalized by the IRP regime than they would be under the Criminal Code. They pay for the fines and the programs imposed, and resume driving after three months. It is lower income, rural and/or younger drivers who are more likely to be harshly affected – often for years because they cannot afford to pay for the mandatory post-prohibition programs. Those whose employment requires being able to drive may also suffer inordinately, as they lose their jobs and they and their families suffer serious corollary effects from the loss of income.
The very real and substantial penalties that often flow from the IRP regime would be acceptable if the review process were fair. But it is not. There is virtually no means of challenging the word of the officer regarding what took place at the roadside, and the lack of checks and balances in turn will almost inevitably lead to an arrogant undesirable police culture.
The cynical culture of the IRP regime should not be allowed to perpetuate. There is some hope that the constitutional challenge in Sivia will receive a more comprehensive resolution from the Court of Appeal. In the meantime, we must fight for just outcomes and a fairer regime as best we can with the resources at our disposal.

Also see the original paper The Unsettling Unfairness of the IRP Regime.


Kevin Filkow chairs annual Criminal Law Conference for Trial Lawyers of BC

I am pleased to chair this year’s Criminal Law conference for the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia. I was also chairperson in 2011 and 2012. They were excellent and instructive conferences. The audience and speakers included judges, media, journalists, defense counsel and crown prosecutors.

The theme of the 2014 conference is Criminal Law at a Crossroads: New Practice Strategies. Topics that will be covered include civil forfeiture proceedings and charter violations; police-issued process and warrants; expert evidence in drug cases; bail reviews; video testimony; recanting witnesses; pre-trial credit, victim fine surcharges; mandatory minimums; bail reviews; new issues in drinking and driving laws and pardons.

This year’s conference will be held at the Vancouver Hyatt on September 19th, 2014. I look forward to it once again.


Filkow Law Opens A New Kelowna Office

We are proud to announce the opening of our new Filkow Law Kelowna location. Our new criminal law office is located in the heart of downtown Kelowna at 1638 Pandosy Street in suite #20.

There is ample street parking and the Chapman parkade is half a block away.

Contact us at our Kelowna criminal law office: (250) 860-2744.

Mailing and physical address: 1638 Pandosy Street #20, Kelowna, BC V1Y 1P8


Kevin Filkow presents leading seminar on drinking and driving laws and IRPs, 2015

BC Police forces have begun using the new Alco-Sensor FST for use in Immediate Roadside Prohibitions.  This new breathalyzer has several important differences over the previously used versions.  The new version has been designed to attempt to limit the amount of user-errors by the police that were being observed and leading to unreliable results.

First, the device is programmed to not accept a sample if it is expired.  It is also programmed to not accept a sample if it is outside of the now-expanded temperature range.

Secondly, the device has a completely different set of messages that are possible compared to the old devices.

This will likely eliminate many of the factors that would historically lead to unreliable test results with previous devices, but there are still some factors that can indicate whether an FST reading is reliable or not.

If you have received an Immediate Roadside Prohibition, it is very important to have an experienced lawyer review your case and get proper legal advice as to whether your test results can be relied upon.