Holiday road checks still on

Despite impaired driving court ruling, police still looking for drunk drivers

Police are not going to reduce roadside counterattack checks, despite a recent court ruling.

After a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled last week that the most severe of B.C.’s new impaired driving penalties infringe on people’s constitutional rights to a fair trial, Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond announced police in the province won’t impose the toughest of the new roadside penalties until drivers are given a way to appeal the results of a failed breath test.

But E Division RCMP Supt. Norm Gaumont says little will change.

“We will absolutely not be reducing counterattack roadside checks,” Gaumont said. “Nothing’s changed here. We still don’t want people to drink and drive. Let’s keep up the good work.”

There was a 40-per-cent drop in alcohol-related vehicle deaths in the first year of the new penalties.

In his ruling, Justice Jon Sigurdson said the increased penalties for blowing in the “warn” range of 0.05 to 0.08 per cent, are permissible. But drivers who blow in the “fail” range above 0.08 should have a chance to challenge the decision if their vehicles are impounded for 30 days and they face thousands of dollars in administrative penalties, Sigurdson said.

Gaumont said police will revert to the old roadside impairment rules, which means impaired drivers can still face a 90-day administrative driving prohibition if they are charged.

The newer penalties are more strict, allowing police to give drivers with a blood alcohol reading in the “warn” range a three-day driving ban, a $200 administrative penalty and another $250 fee to have a driver’s licence reinstated. Drivers can also have their cars impounded for three days and be billed for towing and storage.

For roadside readings of 0.08 per cent or higher, police have been imposing a 90-day driving ban, a $500 fine and impounding the vehicle for 30 days.

That suspension can cost a driver $3,750 for such things as towing, storage and a mandatory “responsible driver” course.

 

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