New rules on impaired driving aren't changing
The provincial government won’t soften its 10-month-old roadside administrative penalties for impaired driving, citing a 50-per-cent drop in drunk driving deaths since the rules took effect.
Nor will it embark on a public information campaign previously pledged to help revellers decide how much they can drink before they might exceed the lower blood-alcohol limit of 0.05 if caught behind the wheel.
“Half the number of people have died on the roads as a result of drunk driving, based on the statistics we see,” Premier Christy Clark told reporters recently.
Preliminary numbers show 30 deaths in alcohol-related crashes in the first seven months of the new regulations, down from an average of 61 in the same October-to-April period of the previous five years.
Police credit the new regulations – with the threat of stiff fines and car impoundments – for the improved driving safety record.
Police can now impose an immediate penalty on any driver who blows in the “warn” range between 0.05 and 0.08.
Instead of issuing a 24-hour suspension or a formal impaired charge, police can impose a 90-day driving ban, a $500 fine and impound the vehicle for 30 days, with the owner on the hook for the towing and storage charges.
Former Public Safety Minister Rich Coleman had promised a review of the new rules late last year after the bar and restaurant industry complained of lost business because patrons were drinking less.
He had indicated that might lead to an appeal period where drivers caught by police could lodge challenges before the penalties are applied.
But no such legislation was tabled this spring.
B.C. Restaurant and Foodservice Association president Ian Tostenson said his members no accept that the rules are here to stay.
“When the theme of Families First cam through from the premier, it was pretty obvious that no one in their right mind was going to say families are important – and by the way, we’re going to loosen up on the impaired driving penalties.”
Business was down much more steeply in the immediate months after the change, he said.