British Columbia

B.C's new impaired driving laws face review

The B.C. government is going to review its tough new impaired driving laws because of unintended consequences they are having on the province's restaurants and bars, according to Solicitor General Rich Coleman.

The B.C. government is going to review its tough new impaired driving laws because of unintended consequences they are having on the province's restaurants and bars, according to Solicitor General Rich Coleman.

The new laws, which came into effect in September, introduced tough roadside penalties for anyone caught with a blood alcohol level over .05, leading many people to conclude they cannot legally drive after one drink.

Many bars and restaurants have reported up to a 30 per cent drop in business since the new laws were brought in. But Coleman points out .05 was always the warning range for impaired driving, and only the penalties have changed.

Under the new laws, drivers caught with a blood alcohol level in the warning range — between 0.05 and 0.08 per cent — face an immediate three-day driving ban and a $200 fine. A 90-day driving ban and a $500 fine is imposed on anyone who refuses a breathalyzer test or blows over .08.  

Coleman said he has not made up his mind about changing the law, but is planning a provincewide campaign to let residents know it's still OK to have a drink out on the town.  

"We'll see, going into the spring, if there are certain things we may have to do to mitigate some of the public's concerns," Coleman said in Victoria on Monday.

Ontario introduced similarly stiff penalties last year, including a mandatory immediate three-day license suspension, for people caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05.