Creston RCMP ‘disappointed’ over impaired drinking ruling

Web Lead

  • Dec. 11, 2011 2:00 p.m.

A BC Supreme Court decision has put on hold tough impaired driving laws that have significantly reduced traffic fatalities since they were introduced in 2010.

Justice Ron Sigurdson ruled last week on a challenge to penalties issued on the roadside when drivers blow over 0.08. Those penalties include a 90-day driving prohibition, 30-day vehicle impoundment and nearly $4,000 in administrative penalties. Sigurdson said the province must find a way to allow drivers to appeal those results.

“We are disappointed,” Creston RCMP Staff Sgt. Bob Gollan said on Monday. “This decision puts us back to the previous requirement of prosecuting criminal charges through the courts, which are already so backed up that cases are being dismissed because they have taken too long to try.”

Two weeks ago, Creston RCMP Cpl. Monte Taylor said that charges against a Creston man and woman for growing marijuana for the purposes of trafficking had been thrown out because of the time it took to bring the case to trial. Numerous court appearances had been cancelled, Taylor said, mostly because of the unavailability of a judge.

Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond announced on Nov. 30 that B.C. police will discontinue imposing the harsh roadside penalties until the laws can be amended to reflect Sigurdson’s findings.

The judge upheld the acceptability of the law’s roadside penalties for drivers who blow a “warn” reading of 0.05 to 0.08 per cent.

Only days before the judicial ruling, Premier Christy Clark and Bond announced that tough, non-criminal penalties had resulted in a 40 per cent decline in alcohol-related deaths.

When the laws were implemented last year the province faced heavy pressure to relax them after pub and restaurant owners complained of a severe decline in business. The immediate decline in alcohol-related driving deaths made it politically difficult for the government to relax the penalties, though.

The ruling comes just as the annual Christmas CounterAttack campaign is launched, with increased roadblocks to look for impaired drivers.