Mountains, valleys, and the ocean at your feet – British Columbia might be a nature lover’s paradise, but it’s the worst place you could choose to drink and drive in Canada. Ignition interlock and impaired driving laws in British Columbia are the strictest in the entire country, and you could have your vehicle seized, immediately lose your license, and may be required to install an ignition interlock device.
In Canada, drivers are subject to federal impaired driving laws that cover the entire country and provincial impaired driving laws that are limited to governing the province. Under federal law, it’s a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle over the limit of .08 or while impaired by drugs. Police can ask you for a breath or blood sample if they suspect you’ve have been drinking or doing drugs anytime within 3 hours of your stop.
British Columbia’s provincial impaired driving laws state that if you have care and control of a vehicle and you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of not less than .05, you can be served with an immediate roadside suspension.
Based on blood alcohol content, for a first impaired driving offense in British Columbia you’ll receive:
BAC of 0 – 0.49
This is considered the ‘warn’ range in British Columbia for those in the Graduated Licensing Program. You could receive a 12-hour driving suspension if you register any amount of alcohol in your blood stream, and you may receive up to a 24 hour driving suspension.
BAC of .05 to .08
If it’s your first impaired driving offense in British Columbia, you’ll receive:
- Loss of your driver’s license immediately, and you won’t be able to drive for 3 days
- Your vehicle may be impounded and you’ll be responsible for all towing and storage costs
- Fines payable up to $200
- You must make an application to have your license reinstated and pay the fees associated
BAC of not less than .08
If you fail the breathalyzer or refuse to provide a breath or blood sample, the following penalties will apply:
- Your driver’s license will be immediately seized and you will be prohibited from driving for 90 days
- Your vehicle will be impounded for 30 days and you’ll have to pay all fees associated including towing and storage
- Fines payable up to $500
- You may need to attend BC’s Responsible Driver Program
- You may be required to install an ignition interlock device
British Columbia’s ignition interlock program began in 2005, and at that point they only targeted the highest risk drivers. They now include drivers who receive alcohol related restrictions under the Criminal Code and the Motor Vehicle Act of British Columbia. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles in British Columbia can refer you to the ignition interlock program even if you only have one alcohol-related impaired driving conviction.
British Columbia is a great place to live, work, and play, but they don’t tolerate drinking drivers. Always be sure to drive sober or appoint a designated driver if you’ve been drinking.