B.C.'s amended drunk driving law back in force Friday
B.C.'s tough drunk driving penalties have been amended to ensure all drivers that blow above the warning level will be given a second breathalyzer test, starting Friday.
Last year a judge ruled sections of the law were unconstitutional because they allow police to issue criminal-like penalties without a proper appeal process. The judge gave the government six months to change the law.
The government amended the law in May so that police must now advise drivers of their right to take a second breath test on a second machine. The lower of the two readings will then prevail.
Drivers can also challenge the reliability of the results through an administrative review, and police must provide more documentation for each roadside suspension and the accuracy of breathalyzers.
"We've made changes to satisfy the court ruling. In fact, we've gone even further than the court directed because we want the public to believe in both the fairness and effectiveness of our approach," said Justice Minister Shirley Bond.
An estimated 15,000 people were fined and penalized for blowing over .08 while the old law was in place, paying about $4,500 each in fines and fees.
Despite the legal challenge, the government maintains the law has been very effective at reducing deaths on B.C. roads.
"Compared to the average over the previous five years, alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths have dropped by 44 per cent since the law came into force- with an estimated 71 lives saved," said a statement issued by the Ministry of Justice.