The battle over stricter impaired driving laws in British Columbia has been raging on for 5 years, and since that time people stopped for drinking and driving over .08 or warn range suspensions have taken the new laws and challenged them all the way to the Supreme Court.
One of the biggest issue people have with these new laws is the Immediate Roadside Prohibitions or IRP. According to roadsafetybc.com, an IRP is a driving prohibition issued under the Motor Vehicle Act if you are found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.05.
That means if you’ve had one drink and you’re asked to submit to a breathalyzer after being pulled over by police at a checkpoint or while driving down the road, you can immediately lose your drivers license for 3 days. Your vehicle can also be towed away and impounded for 3 days for a first warn range offense.
After a news outlet obtained documents on IRP rates under a freedom of information request, they found that a number of drivers were unfairly handed the 3 day suspension because of improper calibration of screening devices or breathalyzers.
These drivers may receive reimbursement for the wrongful charge, but this just adds fuel to the fire for people who don’t believe IRP is fair. Although it would be difficult to argue that one 3-day IRP has the potential to alter your lifestyle in a significant way, if you continue to receive warn range violations, you could see a 30-day drivers license suspension and a 30-day vehicle impoundment. For anyone with a job or a family to drive, losing your vehicle and your license for that length of time could be extremely difficult.
There have been more than 18,800 of these roadside prohibitions handed out every year, and although there is controversy over how accurate the breathalyzer samples are, IRPs have been receiving credit for reducing impaired driving fatalities. Yes, there will be challenges, but no one can deny that IRPs are working to reduce drunk driving in British Columbia, and that’s a good thing.