Impaired case tossed due to trial delay

Judge says drunk driving cases 'double and triple booked' in Surrey.

A B.C. judge has kicked out a case against an alleged drunk driver in Surrey because it took too long to get the case to trial.

A woman was charged in 2009 with one count of impaired driving and one count of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level exceeding the legal limit.

Though the offense took place Oct. 12, 2009, her first trial date wasn’t until May 9 of this year. It was then that the accused requested a stay of proceedings, arguing her right to be tried within a reasonable time had been violated.

In her reasons for judgement last month, Surrey Provincial Court Judge Rose Raven said that the 14-and-a-half month delay in the case caused the woman to suffer “significant worry, anxiety, and embarrassment as a result of the charges she is facing, which has been significantly exacerbated by the delay in the trial.”

Raven said the woman would suffer even more financial and emotional hardship now that her husband has had to move for work purposes. Not only would she have less help caring for their 13-year-old daughter, but the potential loss of the accused’s driver’s licence would also have a severe impact, said the judge.

In her reasons, Raven referred to numerous other impaired driving cases in Surrey that have been tossed due to trial delays.

One involved a gap between offense and trial of 18 months. The judge in that matter called Surrey court the “problem child” due to the longer delays it faces compared other areas of the Lower Mainland and B.C.

In two other impaired cases referred to, both with 13-month delays, Judge Peder Gulbransen stated the lag time was caused by the reduction in the number of court days available to handle criminal cases in the past five years, the decrease in the number of “judge days” due to a lack of replacements and new judge appointments, and reductions in court staff and sheriffs.

Gulbransen said provincial courts cannot expect to be immune from budget cuts.

“But, the Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that the time will come when the courts can no longer accommodate an explanation for lengthy institutional delay that there is just no money for the court system,” he said. “In Surrey, that time has come.”

In her written decision on the woman’s case, Judge Raven agreed the number of applications for a stay of proceedings “continue to abound” in Surrey, particularly for impaired driving charges.

“It is not unusual for impaired driving trials to be double and triple booked in Surrey Courts with the result that there is a probability one or more of the trials will have to be adjourned, causing further institutional delay,” said Raven.

sreynolds@surreyleader.com

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Story of ‘A Mother’s Journey to Adoption’ told in book by first-time Surrey author

In the 1990s, Raj Arneja and husband Gurpreet adopted two children in India

Heritage rail to remain closed for both July and August

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society may open Cloverdale Station in September

Surrey council to consider a $150 FOI fee for attendance requests at city facilities

This is expected to come before council during tonight’s council meeting, on Monday July 13.

Surrey’s rink reopening plan forces skaters elsewhere, councillor says

Several private rinks are already open across Metro Vancouver

South Surrey man to bike across Canada

Last minute decision to take Rajiv Dhaliwal on three-month journey

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read