Driving bans don’t breach Inuit hunting rights, Nunavut judge rules
Court upholds Criminal Code’s mandatory 1-year driving prohibition for drunk driving
Mandatory driving prohibitions for drunk driving convictions do not breach Inuit hunting rights, a Nunavut judge ruled Thursday.
Justice Paul Bychok released a 16-page written decision in response to a charter challenge put forward by four Inuit men convicted of alcohol-related driving offences in Rankin Inlet. Bychok heard their arguments on Sept. 1.
In the Canadian Criminal Code, impaired driving convictions come with a mandatory driving prohibition of at least one year for the first offence. For second and third offences, that prohibition goes up to a minimum of two and three years, respectively.
Lawyers for the men argued that driving bans undermine sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that cover rights to liberty and security, protections from cruel and unusual punishments, and equality.
The men explained in statements how being barred from driving would challenge their ability to travel on the land on ATVs or snowmobiles so they can hunt and harvest.
Bychok noted none of the men explained how a driving prohibition would prevent them from hunting.
“[The hunters] will no doubt be inconvenienced during the period of the driving prohibition as they will have to rely on others in the hunting party to operate the motor vehicles,” the judge said in his decision.
“However, co-operation, flexibility, and ingenuity have always been hallmarks of the hunt.”
In his conclusion, Bychok dismissed the application, stating that a driving ban would mainly revoke the men’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle but not their right to hunt.