Finally, drunk driver’s are safer in British Columbia.

Ethan Baron, a Vancouver Province writer, wrote an article titled:

Finally, everyone’s safer – except drunk drivers

That’s the way the new, “toughest drunk driving laws in Canada” has been pitched to us. They’re tough on drunk drivers. That’ll make our roads safer.

Who could argue with safer roads? Not me.

But do these new laws really protect us from drunk drivers, r is it just the opposite?

First, we need to get clear on who we’re talking about when we talk about a drunk driver. For the sake of this discussion, let’s say that we’re talking about:

(a) someone who is showing obvious signs of impairment. In other words, there’s evidence of bad driving that brings them to the attention of the police. When they’re stopped, there is a strong odour of alcohol on their breath. They stagger when they walk. They can’t produce their drivers licence (even though it’s plainly visible), etc. etc. You get the drill. They act like a “drunk” person acts.

(b) someone who, even if they show no signs of impairment, blows over 0.08 (over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood). In other words they look fine, but they’re (under the current criminal law) drunk.

For the purposes of this web post, everyone else is not drunk. Someone who is at 0.05 and shows no signs of impairment is not drunk. And there’s no doubt that the new drunk driving laws does a great job of hammering those people.

But what about the drunks? How’s the new law working against, or for, them?

Let’s take a look at an actual case (as reported on page 12 of the Maple Ridge News – October 20th edition).

The headline read:

Police dog helps nab impaired driver.

Here are the reported facts:

– On Sunday October 17th at around 2:30 am, the police see a truck being driven erratically. The driver pulls over, but “sped away” when the officer got out of his patrol car and approached him.

– The RCMP call in the “Air One” helicopter, and the truck is followed to a driveway in the 12600-block of 239th Street.

– The driver runs from the truck into a heavily treed area. He ignores police demands to come out of this area. He only comes out when he is “coaxed” out by a police dog.

– He provides a sample of his breath into a roadside screening device, and blows “fail”.

What happens to him?

The police use B.C.’s new tough drunk driving laws to suspend his licence and impound his truck. He’s also given a couple of traffic tickets (for failing to stop for police, excessive speed and carless driving).

He is NOT charged with impaired driving. He faces no criminal conviction. He will not be subject to losing his licence for a year (which he would under the criminal code).


Because these new “tough drunk driving laws” are easy to use. No muss. No fuss. No messy trial.

The result? No criminal conviction. No record of impaired driving.

So if this guy gets charged in Alberta with impaired driving, he’ll be treated as a first offender.

Great job British Columbia.

You’re new “toughest drunk driving laws in Canada” nab people who have a few drinks with dinner but are still under the legal limit (read: Haven’t committed any crimes), and

they let the real drunk drivers get away with drunk driving.

Sure they lose their licence for a couple of months, but that’s a lot shorter than a year and there’s no criminal record.

If the intention was to de-criminalize drunk driving, why not just do that up front.

Oh yeah. Because it would look bad to the public.

What do you think? Are B.C.’s new “toughest drunk driving laws” really “tough” on the real “drunk drivers”?

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3 Responses to “Finally, drunk driver’s are safer in British Columbia.”

  1. […] first pointed this out in a blog post written on October 22, […]

  2. These rules are targeting the wrong people. Its not Mrs Citizen who blows 0.06 that is going to go 120km/h around a corner and kill someone, its the cronic drinkers that dont care about the rules. We should have stiff penalties for REAL DRUNK DRIVERS and leave the rest of us alone. Idea: How bout a driving course with cones and sudden manouvers beside road blocks? If your ok to drive.. you should prove it! Fail the course, DUI, pass, have a good night!

  3. William Carrigan says:

    Are the impaired driving laws effective ? Who knows with all the political spin different parties and speacial interest groups are getting from this issue. Woe to the politician that comes out against the current flavour.
    I believe that we need to look at the original purpose of the impaired laws.

    1.Drunk driving laws were put into place to protect the public.
    Are they really considering that a drunk driver is liable to drive wether licensed or not
    2. Is the law actually protecting or just punishing (reactive as to proactive)

    3. Should interlocks be the action rather than suspension as our social welfare system may not be able to stand the overload due to people having to use it because of loss of employment.

    I believe the original purpose of the impaired driving laws has been lost as people and parties are out for retaliation as opposed to rehabilitation.

    In my opinion the best way to Protect the public is the use of inter-locks on all units that convicted impaired drivers use and counselling /treatment via the many associations out there.

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