Victoria police chief applauds amended legislation around drinking and driving

Changes fortify appeal process for accused impaired drivers

Victoria’s police chief is relieved his officers, and their policing counterparts elsewhere in the province, can once again rely on B.C.’s tough drinking and driving laws, after amendments took effect last Friday.

“We think that this process has triggered a very positive change in people’s attitudes and people’s behaviour (toward impaired driving),” said Chief Const. Jamie Graham, chair of the traffic safety committee of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.

Under the amended legislation governing immediate roadside prohibitions – which include driving bans, vehicle impoundments and fines – the rights of drivers wanting to challenge their breath test and appeal their penalties have been beefed up.

The Motor Vehicle Act laws governing this were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of B.C. last November. Since then the province has made changes to the rules that once again allow police to more efficiently tackle drunk driving, but which now strengthen the rights of accused drivers.

In addition to the strengthened administrative review process, police now must inform drivers that they can challenge the results of their first breath sample by providing a second sample on a different screening device.

The lower of the two readings now takes precedence, rather than the second reading trumping the first, as was the case before the changes.

To further bolster fairness for drivers, B.C.’s Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles will review the reliability of screening device results, and ensure police issued a driving ban based on the lowest reading.

Police are also now required to submit sworn reports on roadside prohibitions to the superintendent’s office, as well as documentation on the calibration of screening devices.

Before immediate roadside prohibitions were brought into force in September 2010, police relied on the Criminal Code to penalize impaired drivers, a paperwork-intensive process that delayed officers at the police station or in court.

Thanks to the amended legislation, police once again have at their disposal penalties that send a zero-tolerance message to impaired drivers, Graham said.

“In my view, this is the toughest impaired driving process in the country.”

In the year after the immediate roadside sanctions came into effect, there was a 40-per-cent decline in alcohol-related traffic deaths, according to the province.

emccracken@vicnews.com

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

Just Posted

Motion for Saanich to stand with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in pipeline debate postponed

One week delay provides more time to build community support, councillor says

UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway blockade ends three hours later

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

City of Langford rebrands, announces several projects

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day in Victoria

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Most Read