Canada's harshest impaired driving laws come into effect on Monday in B.C., including a 90-day driving ban and a $500 fine for anyone who refuses a breathalyzer test or blows over 0.08 blood alcohol level.
As well, offenders will have their vehicles impounded for 30 days and may also face criminal charges. The penalties get tougher for repeated infractions. The new 90-day roadside ban means officers will no longer need to take drivers to the station for a full breath analysis in order to impose a driving ban longer than 24 hours.
Solicitor General Mike De Jong says the province has a goal of reducing impaired driving deaths by more than a third in three years, and some drivers will need to start making better choices as the province rolls out the toughest penalties in the country.
"If they insist on refusing to take some fairly basic steps to plan before they go out on how they're going to get home, on designating a driver, or identifying transit options, or other alternatives, they are going to lose their licence, they are going to lose their vehicle, and they are going to lose a whole lot of their money," De Jong said Thursday in Vancouver.
Penalties start at 0.05 BOA
There's also a new warning range for impaired driving which drops the legal blood alcohol limit to .05, said de Jong. Drivers caught once with a blood alcohol level in the warning range — between 0.05 and 0.08 — will face an immediate, three-day driving ban and a $200 fine. Those caught twice in a five-year period face a seven-day ban and a $300 fine; and those caught three times over five years face a 30-day ban and a $400 fine.
"The sanctions are the toughest in the country," he said. "…If they are repeat offenders, [they pay] upwards of $4,000 to get their vehicle and licence back."
Drivers who blow once in the failing range, or three times in five years in the new warning range, will also be required to participate in the Responsible Driver Program. They must also use an ignition interlock device, which tests a driver's breath for alcohol every time they operate their vehicle, for one year.
There are also new penalties for excessive speeding. Drivers caught going 40 km/hr over the speed limit will have their vehicles impounded for a week.