Robin Hood law could set precedent for drunk boating

Published on September 4th, 2014

Last summer, police pulled a man from the Toronto harbour, apparently drunk and soaked to the bone. Valentin Chygyrynskyy had allegedly steered his sailboat into another vessel parked along the harbour’s west wall and was tossed into the drink.

Police immediately impounded his 25-foot boat, the Kittiwake, and now provincial attorneys are trying to seize it using civil forfeiture laws that target property “related” to crime.

Chygyrynskyy has yet to be convicted for impaired driving in the case, but the seizure of his boat is going ahead regardless. If the case is successful, it could set a precedent with serious implications for drunk drivers on both land and water: not only can you lose your licence and be sent to prison, but soon you might stand to lose your boat – or car – as well.

“I think it’s a brilliant idea,” said lawyer Craig Bottomley, who has experience in defending civil forfeiture cases. “It would have a fabulous deterrent effect.”

“We know jail doesn’t deter people (from drinking and driving), but losing your car might,” he said.

The Ontario Civil Remedies Act is a Robin Hood law conceived as a way to take property from criminals and give the proceeds from its sale to victims. Yet no conviction – nor even a charge – is necessary for a seizure to take place. – Hamilton Spectator, full story

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