British Columbia impaired driving laws have received their fair share of criticism since they changed in 2010. People were angry about the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program that required a vehicle impound and short license suspension if someone was caught drunk driving, and they took challenges of different sections of impaired driving law all the way to the BC Supreme Court.
Eight years later the dust has finally settled in the province, and now British Columbia lawmakers are seeing results. The province is showing a significant decrease in impaired driving deaths, and that’s brought positive attention to B.C. because provinces like Ontario are considering passing similar laws.
At the heart of British Columbia impaired driving law is decriminalization. That means police can offer someone stopped for a first drunk driving offense an option: if they haven’t been injured or killed anyone and they haven’t caused damage to anyone’s property, that person can choose either administrative or criminal charges.
Choosing an administrative charge in British Columbia means that offender loses his or her driver’s license for 90 days, they lose their car because of seizure for 30 days, and they need to install an ignition interlock device. What they won’t receive is a criminal charge on their permanent record. In contrast, right now any Ontario drunk driver who is charged for a first offense under the criminal code has to go to court for that charge. They must also lose their driver’s license for 90 days, lose their car for seven days, and they’ll have to enroll in the ignition interlock program.
Ontario isn’t the only province looking at B.C.’s example of impaired driving law. Alberta is also said to be in the process of decriminalization too.
British Columbia impaired driving law had to experience growing pains, but in the long run it’s been a life saver for drivers in the province too. Maybe we’ll soon see these types of laws becoming the norm for impaired driving law in Canada.