Charges dismissed after questions of breathalyzer accuracy

Charges have been dismissed after a man had a blood alcohol level over 0.08 in Fort Nelson.

Richard Rossi was stopped by Fort Nelson RCMP last April and challenged this 0.08 blood alcohol reading in court. At the time, an adjudicator upheld his driving ban. Rossi stated he had only had two beers before being pulled over.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge recently ruled the adjudicator misread an experts report that stated there is a plus or minus 10 milligram error inherent in blood alcohol content sample devices.

The expert suggested Rossi’s true blood alcohol level could have been between 70 and 90 milligrams in 100 milliliters of blood. Rossi’s lawyer believes the instruments used by police are a problem when the provincial government sets absolute levels of 0.05 or 0.08.

Judge Wedge agreed and has stayed Rossi’s driving prohibition, ordered the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to hold another hearing and ordered that Rossi’s legal costs be paid.

British Columbia recently initiated the toughest anti-drinking and driving laws in the country.

Under the new laws, drivers caught with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher or those who refuse to give a breath sample could face fines that total up to $4,000 and could get a three-month driving ban. All without any immediate criminal charges or time in court.

There’s also a new warn range, which drops the legal blood alcohol limit to 0.05. Those caught over that level for the first time will face an immediate three-day driving ban, $450 in penalties and fees, and three-days of vehicle impoundment. 

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