Administrative law – Motor vehicles – Adjudication – Breathalyzer test – Evidence – Suspension of driver’s licence – Judicial review – Natural justice – Procedural requirements and fairness
Painter v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles),  B.C.J. No. 1545, British Columbia Supreme Court, July 11, 2006, Gill J.
Painter brought an application to quash an adjudicator’s decision concluding that Painter had care and control of a motor vehicle while his blood alcohol level was over .08. Painter was given a driving prohibition, which he appealed. With his appeal, Painter filed an affidavit stating how much he drank on the night in question and providing expert evidence of what his blood alcohol level would have been. The adjudicator dismissed Painter’s appeal on the ground that there was a widely accepted standard of error in alcohol testing and on her own belief of elimination rates and calibration of approved screening devices. Painter applied to quash the adjudicator’s decision on the basis that the adjudicator breached the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness by relying on her own training and expertise.
The Court allowed Painter’s application finding that there was no evidence before the adjudicator about the standard of error, calibration of approved screening devices or rates of elimination. The conclusions reached by the adjudicator that formed the basis of her findings were based on her own knowledge or understanding. The Court held that the adjudicator breached the rules of natural justice when she used her own belief and did not give Painter an opportunity to address these matters by putting forward evidence or by way of submissions. Painter had provided the adjudicator with affidavit evidence and expert opinion and the adjudicator rejected the evidence by relying on facts not in evidence. In the result, Painter’s application was allowed and the adjudicator’s decision was quashed.
To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.