Christmas is over but some gifts keep on giving. Last Christmas, I asked my husband for an important gift. I wanted a dash cam for my vehicle. If you have listened to our podcast entitled, “Why SafeRoads Does Not Make Me Feel Safe,” you might be able to guess why.

If a person is stopped by a police officer, especially if it is in RCMP territory, chances are that there is an audio and video recording going on the whole time. Many of our clients often express their desire to review the video evidence in their case, as they believe it could substantiate key aspects such as: instances of potential police misconduct, challenges in providing a breath sample, discrepancies between recorded results and officer reports, and many more occurrences that we see everyday.

However, through our work defending clients facing DUI and impaired driving charges in Alberta, we know that it is almost certain that they won’t get the video. In 2023, we won a significant case in the Court of King’s Bench in which Justice Whitling held that in SafeRoads cases, the police either need to include the video or need to explicitly state the reason for non-disclosure if it doesn’t exist. We started to obtain videos. We also succeeded in every case where video was not disclosed, and the officers failed to provide a valid reason for non-disclosure.

But the government seems reluctant to disclose the audio and video recordings, for reasons undisclosed. Shortly after Justice Whitling’s decision, the government passed an amendment to the SafeRoads Alberta Regulation, explicitly stating that audio and video recordings are not required to be disclosed. Consequently, we stopped receiving video evidence.

The case in front of Justice Whitling is still ongoing both at the Court of King’s Bench level as well as in the Court of Appeal, which is rather unusual. While we remain hopeful that the Courts will rule on the lawfulness or appropriateness of the amendment, we are months away from any possibility of a decision that might assist our clients.

Those clients who use their phones, their doorbells, or their car cameras to record their interactions with police are ALL better off than those who come to us empty-handed. As I mentioned in the podcast, I regretted not recording my interaction with the police. It all turned out okay in the end, but I have learned that it is apparently difficult for me to provide a sample into the AlcoSensor FST. Despite being active and in good physical shape from running and cycling, it took me five attempts before registering a zero reading. If there is a next time, I will have an audio and video recording to support my account (if ever necessary) of what truly transpired at the roadside.

Do you have a birthday or anniversary coming up? Not sure what to get your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? Now you know the perfect gift to give or request. A dash cam could be a lifesaver, ensuring safety and accountability on the roads, especially in cases of DUI and impaired driving incidents..

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