- Our Town
Drunk passenger sues RCMP
A Sorrento grandfather wants to be compensated for being wrongly prohibited from driving.
In June last year, Peter Norman asked his grandson, who possessed a learner’s licence, to drive him after he drank a few beer.
Police stopped them and had Norman, who was in the passenger’s seat, blow into a breathalyser in his role as a qualified supervisor.
He was given a roadside prohibition, his licence was suspended and his vehicle impounded.
He protested to the police and the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, to no avail. However, in October last year, he received a letter from the Motor Vehicles office.
It said the office had been advised by the RCMP’s E Division Traffic Services in Surrey that the prohibition was issued in error and Norman no longer had an unsatisfactory driving record.
With the help of lawyer Paul Doroshenko, who specializes in drunk driving law, Norman is going after compensation from the RCMP.
Norman has explained that, during the prohibition, he was reliant on others for rides, he couldn’t generate his usual income by delivering fire wood to customers and he couldn’t go hunting for meat.
“The police had no jurisdiction to do this,” says Doroshenko. “He’s the most reasonable guy in the world, he’s not looking for a ton of money, he’s looking to be compensated.”
Doroshenko is not a fan of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP), for several reasons. He thinks people should be taken to police stations and be given standard testing.
“You can never eliminate contamination of mouth alcohol from the devices,” he says.
No studies were done prior to enacting the new legislation, but other countries have compared roadside breath testing with testing blood “and found a significant number of readings were different readings from roadside testing,” Doroshenko said.
He also says the quality of police evidence in issuing IRPs is declining, and provides a couple of examples he’s seen: one man was forced to blow into the device because he was wearing a Canucks jersey; another was pulled over because the police officer became suspicious when the driver was following the speed limit carefully.
In the meantime, he’s busy defending clients he believes have a good case.
“Peter Norman’s situation is a little bit special. He’s a very neat guy.”