Police vow they'll continue to bust impaired drivers despite a court ruling saying B.C.'s new roadside penalties infringe on the right to a fair trial.

‘We still don’t want people to drink and drive’

Police say they'll continue to bust impaired drivers, despite court ruling last week about new roadside penalties.

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 said Monday that 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.”

Gaumont said evidence shows that roadside prohibition is effective, noting police have seen a 50 per cent drop in alcohol-related deaths in the Lower Mainland, and are on par to finish 2011 with less than 100 alcohol-related fatalities – something he can’t remember seeing in a long time, if ever.

In 2005, there were 180 such deaths in Metro Vancouver alone, so seeing major drop can only be good news, he said.

“Now, we’re just back to where we were before the new laws came in. I don’t think (the drop in alcohol-related deaths) will change,” Gaumont said.

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 the government has indicated it will be looking to amend the year-old impaired driving law and that the RCMP is looking forward to working with them as they review the judge’s decision and amend the new rules.

In the meantime, police will revert to the old roadside impairment rules, which means impaired drivers can still face a 90-day administrative driving prohibition and can still be charged criminally if they are driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The newer penalties – which Sigurdson did not immediately strike down while he awaits submissions from the province and the driver challenging the new rules – 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.

Gaumont said he doesn’t want to see anyone killed by impaired drivers, whether the new rules stay in effect or not.

“Make sure you have a safe way home and don’t drink and drive,” he said.

by Tricia Leslie

– with files from Tom Fletcher

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Horgan says Surrey mayor opened ‘hornets’ nest’ with Surrey policing transition

Surrey election battle heating up over Doug McCallum’s controversial cop transition

OUR VIEW: Way too many Surrey COVID-19 cases

We all need to take this threat seriously

‘Illegal’ Canadian crab traps, fishing gear seized in U.S. waters near White Rock

Investigation continues after joint operation between Canadian, American authorities in Boundary Bay

OPINION: It’s Time for Surrey to be Heard

Which party will listen to Surrey voters?

COVID-19 exposures at Surrey schools: An updated list

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Return-It depots change beverage container deposits from 20 to 10 cents

Change will be implemented on Oct. 1, with a transition period being held until Oct. 11

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Young man assaulted, left for 12 hours until help called in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park

Vancouver police are looking to identify the victim as they investigate an assault on Monday evening

Most Read