The province’s drinking and driving penalties were back in full effect June 15 after the B.C. government announced a series of amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act.
The amendments were expected to help alleviate concerns over drivers’ rights, previously raised by the B.C. Supreme Court.
Police officers are now legally required to advise drivers of their right to a second Breathalyzer test. They are also impelled to make sworn reports to the superintendent of motor vehicles for “every immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) they issue,” according to the government’s release.
“Our tough stance on impaired driving has not changed,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond. “We have not undermined the deterrent value of our law, which is so critical to the life-saving gains we’ve seen.”
The court had found that IRPs were previously incompatible with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, this because “the administrative review process did not provide the driver with the ability to meaningfully challenge the result.”
While drivers will now be informed of their rights to a second test, they should also be told that the lowest result prevails, and as a consequence, a second test must be carried out within a specific time frame.
A narrative report will accompany the sworn reports issued to the superintendent of motor vehicles. Those reports must include the calibration of the analyzer.
“We’re very glad to see the return of these tough but fair penalties,” said Andrew Murie, CEO of MADD Canada.
According to the Ministry of Justice, over 27,800 IRPs were issued between Sept. 2010 and Nov. 2011.
The province has credited the legislation with helping to reduce DUI-related fatalities by 44 per cent since it was introduced.