Fail! The Immediate Roadside Prohibition

Keys and DrinkI performed many duties in my policing career, investigator, collision analyst, breath testing technician and screening device operator/calibrator/instructor. I've seen first hand the damage that impaired drivers do to themselves and others on our highways. The duty I liked the least was notifying next of kin following a fatal collision.

When I learned about B.C.'s Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program I was excited about the possibility of dealing a significant punishment to impaired drivers before they had a chance to leave the scene of the crime. Better still, they could not simply hide behind a lawyer, a collection of over-complicated case law and a legal system that was not prepared to deal with them expeditiously. I've seen the court refuse to accept a guilty plea because the accused had not consulted with legal counsel.

It was not a surprise for me when the courts were used by the people who make their living selling liquor to disrupt the use of the IRP to protect the rest of us from those who consume that liquor and then drive. Some news stories that I have read since then contain statements attributed to lawyers that do not make sense based on my experience within the system. These stories called into question the accuracy of the screening devices and suggested that innocents have been punished.

My opinion of people that choose to drink and drive is obvious and I suggest that you should be concerned too. The impaired driver presents a very serious danger to you every time you use our highways. I hope that the coming amendments to the IRP adjudication process are able to satisfy the courts for fairness but is left in the hands of the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. We've already spent too long waiting for the new implementation.


Submitted by E-Mail

I have written to the Premiers office commending them on the legislation. The impact has been massive, but people still drive impaired.

I agree with your comments. However I think there needs to be an "iron clad" guarantee of the measurement of the screening device. I'm sure that the police could find away to have second device to provide absolute certainty that the measurement is accurate.
This is an important an issue to resolve, rather that return to the old system of lawyers and technicalities, which removes the deterrent of unquestionable sanctions.
From my accident prevention days- soon , certain consequences will change bad behavior.


The current ASD, the AlcoSensor IV DWF is accurate to +/- 5 mg%, twice as accurate as the old Breathalyzer. It is also set to fail at 100 mg%, meaning that it will show a fail for BAC's between 95 and its maximum measurement, which is 15 mg% higher than the legislated maximum of 80 mg%.

In addition, the driver may choose to request a second sample using a different ASD. The caveat being that the second sample rules the outcome of the IRP. So, if you blow a warn, you should carefully consider a second sample request, but if you blow a fail, you have nothing to lose. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with the lesser of the two samples being the one that the action was based on, but that is not the way the legislation is currently set up.

The biggest complaint that I have heard from people is that the sanctions should not be applied before the driver has had a chance to dispute. To my mind, there is nothing to dispute if the samples were taken properly and the device was properly calibrated. In 15 years of dragging drivers back to the Breathalyzer and Datamaster, I have not had a fail at the roadside turn into less than 80 mg% at the time of the second test.

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