Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal and remains a leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C.
The best way to prevent impaired driving is to plan ahead for a safe ride home. Planning ahead means appointing a designated driver, using transit, calling a taxi, or Operation Red Nose (during the holidays). Take the necessary steps to ensure you arrive alive.
If you witness a suspected impaired driver, call police as soon as it is safe to do so. Try and provide as much information about the vehicle (make, model, license plate), the driver (physical description), the vehicle’s direction of travel and what activity you observed (weaving, swerving off the road, etc.).
Penalties for impaired driving
Impaired drivers can be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada with a criminal offence, or they can be served with an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) under the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act.
If an officer has reasonable grounds to believe a driver is under the influence of alcohol they can use an Approved Screening Device (ASD) to determine a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
- Pass (BAC of 0-0.049) = no penalty unless you are in the Graduated Licensing Program in which any blood alcohol can lead to a 24 hour prohibition
- Warn (BAC of 0.05-0.79) = driver’s license seized, vehicle may be impounded, fees and penalties vary depending on if it is the 1st, 2nd or 3rd incident
- Fail (BAC of 0.08 or higher) or refusal/fail to provide breath sample = 90 day IRP where licence is seized, vehicle impounded and you must pay several fees.
- Or police may proceed by way of a Criminal Code charge.
The penalties of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition can be found here (from the BC Ministry of Justice).
Driving after using drugs, even prescription drugs, can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. Officers may conduct a standard field sobriety test or call upon a Drug Recognition Expert, who can determine that you're under the influence of a drug and you can be charged with drug-impaired driving.
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