Anyone who lives in British Columbia or stays in the know about impaired driving laws will have heard of the controversial Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program. Brought in back in 2010, the program allows police to screen and enforce impaired driving penalties on any driver who is driving or in care and control of their vehicle while within the ‘warn’ range of .05 BAC (blood alcohol concentration) or higher.
A first time IRP penalty could net that driver a three-day driver’s license suspension, three-day vehicle impound, and a small $200 fine. That doesn’t seem like a penalty system that would cause an uproar, but challenges to the IRP were splashed across newspapers, talked about by ICBC, and taken all the way to the BC Supreme Court before it was allowed to stand.
Now the IRP is expanding, and amendments to the program within the next year will include anti-drug driving. These changes are on the way because Canada is expected to legalize marijuana by 2018, and after all of the controversy and challenges to the current IRP, the province is trying to get a jump on preventing any other issues of the sort within the court system.
Unfortunately those issues will be hard to prevent. Unlike impaired driving laws that clearly define a BAC and utilize devices like breathalyzers and ignition interlocks, there’s no easy way to tell if someone is driving under the influence of drugs. Even with a blood or urine sample taken from the offender, some drugged driving cases will end up going all the way to the Supreme Court for a final decision on whether or not that offender is guilty.
If the IRP amends to include drugged driving, British Columbia police and lawmakers may need to brace themselves for another round upheaval before they can prosecute a drugged driver in the same way they can crack down on drunk driver.