VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – BC’s justice minister says tough drinking and driving laws are back in full force tomorrow.

This is coming after the province was forced to make changes when a judge deemed the review process unfair for drivers who fail a breathalyzer test.
Police now have to let drivers know their right to a second test and also must issue sworn reports and submit documentation with a “warning” or “fail” result.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond says her legal team had six months to make changes.

“And that’s exactly what they did, and we certainly believe that the amendments that were brought through the legislature and passed into law meet the concerns in that BC Supreme Court ruling, so in fact we’ve added new elements that improve the appeal process.”

Bond claims since the law was introduced, alcohol-related deaths on the road have dropped by 44 per cent compared to the previous five years
“I think the most important message that I can share today, is that we’ve seen an unbelievably dramatic reduction in loss of life, since our law came into force, over 70 people went home to their families, that would not have previously.”

Bond insists new avenues for drivers to challenge the breathalyzer test make the appeal process more fair.

Bob Rorison with Mothers Against Drunk Driving says he’s glad the laws have returned.

“It gives the police the opportunity to do the job they have done in the past, and the success if these IRP’s (Immediate Roadside Prohibition) has been shown, there’s less death, there’s less injury, and that’s all I’m looking for.”

Laws could be challenged and defeated again: Opposition

NDP Justice Critic Leonard Krog is doubtful the beefy, albeit revamped laws will pass constitutional muster.

“They didn’t get the review they needed in the BC legislature, and I think legal experts need to be paid attention to in this circumstance.”

Krog says the government rushed the new laws in the first place, they needed more review in the legislature, and he’s not confident re-done laws are constitutionally sound.

“They could have frankly, done their homework before they tried the legislation in the first place initially, I’m not sure they’ve gone much farther ahead with the revised legislation.”

But News1130′s legal analyst Michael Shapray says there are two big issues that have been ignored.

“A screening device that has never been accepted in any court in Canada is providing reliable evidence on a criminal case. And the inability of a person to have a full hearing where the police officer is subject to cross-examination,” he outlines.

Shapray adds the changes won’t help the government when it comes to the 250 people who’ve joined a class action lawsuit after they were subject to harsh penalties before the court ruling..

The changes being introduced, as described by the province:

– Police must advise drivers of their right to a second breath test on a second approved screening device (ASD). In the past, officers were not legally required to inform drivers of this right.

– Police must tell drivers that the lower of the two readings will prevail. Previously, the results of a second test prevailed, whether higher or lower.

– Grounds for administrative review now include the reliability of the ASD results, whether police advised the driver of his or her right to a second test, whether police conducted that second breath test on a second ASD, and whether the IRP was issued on the basis of the lowest reading. These grounds reflect the expanded requirements of police officers at the roadside.

– Police officers must provide sworn reports to the superintendent of motor vehicles for every immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) they issue – increasing the evidentiary standard of the officers’ submissions.

– Police officers must also submit documentation attesting to the calibration accuracy of the ASD device or devices that were used.