On Sunday, drinking driving convictions, prohibitions and roadside suspensions will begin to count toward mandatory use of a device that requires drivers to provide breath samples every time they operate a vehicle.
Anyone convicted of an impaired driving offence occurring after Feb. 1 will be required to install and use an ignition interlock device for a minimum of one year, following any related driving prohibition. The requirement will also apply to anyone who accumulates two 90-day administrative driving prohibitions or three 24-hour roadside suspensions within a five-year period.
The mandatory interlock program will not be retroactive. However, as in the past, anyone with repeated impaired driving offences, prohibitions or suspensions may be ordered into the program at the discretion of the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.
The user-pay interlock program costs more than $1,500 for one year, and participants may only drive interlock-equipped vehicles. Any participant caught driving a non-interlock-equipped vehicle loses their driver’s licence. Research shows interlock reduces recidivism by 45 to 90 per cent among both first-time and repeat offenders.
B.C. introduced ignition interlock in 2005 to target some of B.C.’s most irresponsible, high-risk drinking drivers, and is among nine Canadian provinces with interlock programs. Other measures introduced over the past few years to combat impaired driving include:
* Automatic vehicle impoundment: Drinking drivers caught behind the
wheel – even with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) reading below 0.08 –
are given a 24-hour roadside prohibition from driving, automatically lose
their driver’s licence for 24 hours and earn a visit to the impound lot.
* Driving prohibition: If a driver has a BAC over 0.08, or refuses to
comply with a breath or blood alcohol test, police can issue a 90-day
driving prohibition in addition to the above-noted vehicle impoundment
and 24-hour prohibition.
* Mandatory alcohol rehabilitation: Launched in 2005, the Responsible
Driver Program is mandatory for those with an alcohol-related conviction
or multiple offences below the legal limit (such as two administrative
driving prohibitions or three 24-hour prohibitions within five years).
The user-pay program costs participants $880.
* Licence suspension: A driver convicted of a motor-vehicle-related
Criminal Code offence faces an automatic driver’s licence suspension for
a minimum of one year.
* Civil forfeiture: If a judge rules that impaired or reckless driving
was likely to cause death or serious injury, he or she can order the
forfeiture of the vehicle involved.