The battle in British Columbia over controversial impaired driving laws has been raging since long before 2010’s harsh amendments came into play. In memory of Alexa Middelaer, a four year old killed in Delta, BC by an impaired driver, the Province of British Columbia made changes to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) that included:
- Drivers who provide a failing breath sample above .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or refuse to provide a breath sample will face an immediate 90 day driving ban and a $500 fine. They will also have their vehicle impounded for 30 days
- Drivers stopped in the warn range of .05 to .08 BAC will be banned from driving for 3 days and pay a $200 fine. If they are stopped for a warn range violation more than twice in 5 years, they will face a 7 day ban and $300 fine
- Drivers in the fail range or drivers with 3 or more warn range violations in 5 years will be required to install an ignition interlock device for one year
Just like you’d expect when you enact the harshest impaired driving laws in Canada, the backlash was almost immediate.
After years of court dates, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has now ruled that the automatic roadside prohibitions as enacted in 2010 were unconstitutional, but because BC amended the laws in 2012 to allow drivers who failed a roadside test to ask for a second test and apply for a review of their driving prohibition, the court is standing behind automatic driving bans and maintaining their support for roadside checks.
Odds are, the 19,000 people per year who are suspended from driving for up to 90 days and those are required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles as a result of the immediate roadside prohibition law won’t be happy with the Supreme Court’s decision. Thankfully there’s an easy solution for anyone in BC who is worried about being stopped and receiving a drivers license suspension, vehicle impoundment, and fines: just don’t drink and drive.