A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled that a portion of B.C.'s new impaired driving laws — once hailed as the toughest in the county — may be unreasonable for drivers who fail the 0.08 blood alcohol limit on an approved roadside screening device.
Under the province's Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) laws, impaired drivers would face an immediate 90 day driving prohibition, a 30-day vehicle impound, a $500 fine, $250 to reinstate their drivers licence, the cost of taking a Responsible Driving Program, and the cost of installing a interlock device that requires the driver to provide a breath sample while driving. The total cost was roughly $3,750, although some have reported higher costs.
As well as the cost, Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson said the review process was inadequate,
The B.C. Supreme Court upheld the IRP for drivers that test in the "warn" range, between 0.06 and 0.08 per cent blood alcohol content. A first offence results in a three-day driving prohibition, three-day impound, the fee for reinstating their licence and a $200 fine.
The court decision will result in a temporary return to the old system where drivers tested over 0.08 per cent were given a 24-hour suspension and charged with impaired driving — criminal charges that could result in the loss of a licence for a year and other sanctions, depending on the circumstances.
B.C. Solicitor General Shirley Bond said in a statement that the IRP law would return once issues are dealt with.
"Today, Justice Jon Sigurdson issued a decision on the constitutionality of B.C.'s Immediate Roadside Prohibition program and substantially upheld the program," she said. "The court did find that for those persons who blow over 0.08 there needs to be a more meaningful ability to challenge the device reading."
Bond said that government would study the decision to determine next steps and impacts, and would change the Motor Vehicle Act to give people the right to challenge the screening device in the appeal process.