Tough Drunk Driving Laws Are Back


Some minor changes have been made to the old rules but BC`s tough drinking and driving laws are back into effect from Friday, June 15.

Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) and roadside breath tests are back again but this time around the driver does get a second chance at the breath analysing test and the lower reading of the two tests will prevail.

The rules first came into play in September of 2010, but a B.C. Supreme Court later ruled the law did not provide a proper appeal process for someone who has been judged to have failed a roadside breath test.

The government was forced to make changes following a court challenge of the immediate roadside prohibition program.

Now when drivers fail a breath test, they must be told they can blow a second time, and that the lower reading will count.

There are also more grounds to ask for an administrative review of roadside suspensions and fines, which can hit four thousand dollars.

Police must also provide sworn reports on every roadside ban they issue and must also submit documents confirming the accuracy of the breathalyzers they use.

The amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act are in response to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that the original administrative review process did not provide a driver with the ability to meaningfully challenge the “fail” result of a roadside breath test.

The following conditions now apply, regardless of whether a driver provides either a “warn” or “fail” breath sample at the roadside:

* Police must advise drivers of their right to a second breath test on a second approved screening device (ASD). In the past, officers were not legally required to inform drivers of this right.

* Police must tell drivers that the lower of the two readings will prevail. Previously, the results of a second test prevailed, whether higher or lower.

* Grounds for administrative review now include the reliability of the ASD results, whether police advised the driver of his or her right to a second test, whether police conducted that second breath test on a second ASD, and whether the IRP was issued on the basis of the lowest reading. These grounds reflect the expanded requirements of police officers at the roadside.

* Police officers must provide sworn reports to the superintendent of motor vehicles for every immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) they issue – increasing the evidentiary standard of the officers’ submissions.

* Police officers must also submit documentation attesting to the calibration accuracy of the ASD device or devices that were used.

These changes mean, effective June 15, IRPs resume as an alternative to the full Criminal Code process for drivers found in excess of the legal limit of .08 per cent blood-alcohol content at the roadside.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond said, “We’ve made changes to satisfy the court ruling. We want the public to believe in both the fairness and effectiveness of our approach.”

Chief Const. Peter Lepine, president, B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police said, “Drinking drivers who don’t consider the dangers they present to other road-users should be asking themselves whether they really think it’s worth hundreds or thousands of dollars in penalties to continue their dangerous behaviour. Officers across B.C. welcome the resumption of IRPs, and enforcement activities mean it’s a matter of when – not if – you will face extremely serious consequences if you choose to drink and drive.”