British Columbia (BC) is starting to really crack down on drivers who don’t follow the letter of the law. Within six months, the province has dismissed challenges to its drunk driving laws and beefed up its distracted driving laws, and everyone on BC roads should feel safer while driving.
Although the strict BC drinking and driving laws were put into place in 2010, they were amended in 2012 and since that time there have been lawsuits filed challenging the laws on the basis that they are unconstitutional. At the beginning of September the judge threw out the final court case and declared that impaired driving laws in BC are valid and work to protect the public.
Under BC’s impaired driving laws, anyone who fails a roadside screening or refuses to take a test will lose their license for up to 90 days. They will also pay fines up to $500 and they must install an ignition interlock in their vehicle. Yes, those are harsh laws, but the province hasn’t stopped there.
As of October 20th, 2014, anyone talking on a hand-held phone in BC will receive three penalty points on their license and must pay a $167 fine. According to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) points are billed separately from your insurance and you’ll pay a premium of up to $175 for four points and up to $24,000 for 50 points or more.
Although it’s too soon to tell if the distracted driving laws are working, there’s evidence that the strict impaired driving laws are. A study by the University of British Columbia (UBC) shows that fatal crashes and hospital admissions have dropped since the new laws were put into place. The study showed that there were 84 fewer fatal crashes, 308 fewer hospital admissions, and 2,553 fewer ambulance calls each year.
The entire country needs to take note – cracking down on drivers with license suspensions, ignition interlock devices, fines, and points pays off in the long run, and British Columbia is a good example of that.