Times have become even tougher for drinking drivers in British Columbia. New impaired driving laws were passed in 2012 allowing for a 90 day automatic roadside suspension of driver’s licenses should you have a blood alcohol concentration within the warn range of .05 to .08 or .08 and higher. You may also have your vehicle seized and towed to a lot. To get it back you’ll have to pay for all towing and storage costs, not to mention be required to pay to have an interlock device installed and maintained for a period of time determined by the judge.
Since the law changed, there have been a few people not happy with the new impaired driving rules. The automatic roadside prohibition program was challenged recently by a group of individuals who filed a lawsuit stating that the amendments to British Columbia’s impaired driving laws were infringing on the Charter rights of drivers. Making its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Malcom Macaulay ruled that there was no infringement on the rights of British Columbia drivers and the laws stands.
One of the problems mentioned in the lawsuit were due to the breathalyzers the police use and how accurate the readings are. Police in British Columbia are required to inform the driver of their right to a second analysis of the impaired driving reading or breathalyzer test, and one of the lawyers who supported the lawsuit stated that there were ‘all kinds of ways you can get a false reading.’
Roadside breathalyzers have been in use in British Columbia since 1977. Just like the interlock device, breathalyzers used by police require regular calibration and are maintained on a regular schedule. It’s also important to note that police won’t demand a breathalyzer test if they aren’t reasonably suspicious you’ve been drinking and driving, so the odds of you failing the test if you have the smell of alcohol coming from your vehicle, alcohol on your breath, or you’ve admitted to drinking, are high despite what you may think of the accuracy of the devices.
Since the new laws have come into effect, police have been handing out approximately 1,600 suspensions per month. These people might be angry they received swift justice, but when you really think about it and put in perspective, that’s a lot of people who were saved from killing another person or themselves in a drunk driving crash.