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Roadside DUI law nets positive results

Angie Mindus photo BC Hydro crews work to replace a broken power pole along Fairview Drive Saturday after a driver lost control in the early morning hours, striking the pole and coming to rest in a yard. Police said the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol and there was also evidence of alcohol consumption located at the scene. The driver was given a 24-hour prohibition and his vehicle was towed and impounded for 24 hours.  He was also was given a Violation Ticket for Speed Relative to Conditions and for possession of open liquor in a motor vehicle. - Angie Mindus photo
Angie Mindus photo BC Hydro crews work to replace a broken power pole along Fairview Drive Saturday after a driver lost control in the early morning hours, striking the pole and coming to rest in a yard. Police said the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol and there was also evidence of alcohol consumption located at the scene. The driver was given a 24-hour prohibition and his vehicle was towed and impounded for 24 hours. He was also was given a Violation Ticket for Speed Relative to Conditions and for possession of open liquor in a motor vehicle.
— image credit: Angie Mindus photo

B.C.’s new drinking and driving laws are working, said Cariboo-Chilcotin Traffic Services regional commander Sgt. Bob Verbree.

“In the Cariboo we have certainly seen a downward trend of drinking and driving as they have seen around the province.”

Given the fact B.C.’s drinking and driving laws have survived another court challenge this week is also a good thing, he said.

On Monday a constitutional challenge was turned away by the B.C. Court of Appeal, allowing B.C. police to continue to impose 90-day driving suspensions and seize vehicles of drivers who fail a breath alcohol test.

“It’s a matter of public safety on our roads, and so we’re carrying on with the immediate roadside prohibition program,” Attorney General Suzanne Anton said following the ruling.

The law was challenged by six drivers who had either blown a “fail” reading on a roadside blood alcohol screening device, or refused to blow.

B.C.’s immediate roadside prohibition program took effect in 2010, replacing most impaired driving charges with administrative penalties, including a three-day driving ban and a $200 administrative fee for those who register between 0.05 and 0.08, if the police officer has reason to believe the driver is impaired.

If a driver blows a 0.08 or higher police can impose a 90-day driving ban, a $500 penalty and impound the vehicle for 30 days instead of a charge.

Towing and impounding a vehicle can result in a $700 bill, and a $924 mandatory “responsible driver program” may also be required. Verbree said the new laws are working and his staff notices the changes, even in daily routines.

“The numbers aren’t there like they used to be before,” Verbree said.

Government statistics show average fatalities from drinking and driving have fallen to 54 a year from a previous five-year average of 112, since the law took effect in September 2010. Minister Anton said the program is so successful that other provinces are moving in the same direction.

“We’ve led the way nationally on tackling this issue and the results speak for themselves — 190 lives saved and a 52 per cent reduction in alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities,” she said.

- With files from Tom Fletcher

 

 

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