The provincial government has changed the blood alcohol level that earns B.C. drivers driving prohibitions, vehicle impoundments and other costs.
“The level has been increased to .06 from .05,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Gord Stewart said on Tuesday.
Stewart said that police were informed about the change in recent weeks, and that all alcohol screening devices have been recalibrated to the new level.
“I suspect the change was a response to the hospitality industry lobby,” he said.
Bar and restaurant owners reported significant drops in business — about 30 per cent provincially — after the .05 level was introduced last fall.
A first offence for a driving testing for a blood alcohol concentration between .06 and .08 (a “warn” range) results in a driver being issued a three-day driving ban, a $200 fine and a $250 driver’s licence reinstatement fee, and a possible three-day vehicle impoundment with a minimum $150 charge.
A second offence earns drivers a seven-day driving ban, a $300 fine and a possible vehicle impoundment. The total cost is a minimum of $760 for the offense.
A third offence results in a 30-day driving prohibition, a $400 fine, 30-day vehicle impoundment with a minimum $700 fee, enrolment in a “responsible driver’s program” at a cost of $880, a requirement for an ignition interlock for one year ($1,730) and a $250 licence reinstatement fee, for a total of $3,960.
For a driver whose blood alcohol concentration is more than .08, the penalties include an immediate 90-day driving ban, a $500 fine, a $250 driver’s licence reinstatement fee, a 30-day vehicle impoundment with a minimum $700 charge, the $800 responsible driver’s program and the $1,739 ignition interlock. The grand total is a minimum of $4,060. Criminal charges, legal fees, court-ordered fines or penalties can run the bill even higher.