Local RCMP won’t issue immediate roadside suspensions for breathalyzer ‘fail’ readings, but Campbell Riverites can expect the normal slew of holiday road checks.
“The enforcement steps will, in terms of person hours allocated to it, mirror those from last year,” RCMP Sgt. Craig Massey said. “It’s a significant issue in terms of overall enforcement, and we will continue to muster as many resources as we can to provide a public deterrent to people.”
Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson ruled Dec. 1 that people who blow a fail reading, (over .08 blood alcohol content), on a roadside screening device deserve the right to challenge the device reading, which changes police enforcement of impaired driving rules.
Hotly debated since it was brought in last fall, the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) legislation allowed police to conduct one roadside test and immediately suspend the licence of a driver with a fail reading for 90 days and impound the vehicle for 30 days, according to Massey. That person would not be criminally charged, but would also would not be able to challenge the reading in court.
Now, a driver with a fail reading will be taken to the detachment, and if they fail another breathalyzer test, will face criminal charges, just as was done before the legislation was implemented.
“People that blow a fail will, instead of having that done in a non-criminal fashion, will be detained for an impaired driving investigation,” said Massey.
However the ‘warning’ reading of .05 to .08 blood alcohol content rules will remain the same, and drivers who blow readings in this range will receive an immediate licence suspension of three days, and have their car impounded for three days for the first time, with stronger penalties for future warning readings.
Massey said he supports the immediate penalties component of IRP.
“One of the greatest components of the legislation is that it has immediate consequences,” said Massey. “Instead of a year or two years down the road, finally getting before a court, these subjects are immediately held accountable and that’s a great thing.”
He pointed out that alcohol related roadway fatalities are down, and that “there are 45 more people alive today in British Columbia, that given statistically in previous years, wouldn’t be alive.”
While he acknowledged that some people are concerned they could blow in the warning range after having one drink with dinner, he said this is not true.
“There were people that didn’t like this legislation and came up with some horror stories that, you know, you can’t even have one beer and you’re going to blow a fail, and that is absolutely not true,” he explained.
Campbell River RCMP have already started vehicle stops for impaired driving and will continue with a strong enforcement push throughout the holiday season, according to Massey. He said holiday fun is fine, as long as a safe ride home is pre-planned.
“Before you go out for the evening make arrangements for safe transportation home,” said Massey. “Go out, have a great time with your friends and family, and as long as you’ve got a safe way home you don’t have to worry about those consequences.”