On December 18 2018, the laws regarding alcohol-impaired driving were updated across Canada. However, there has been a lot of misreporting around the new rules, and now there is much confusion as to what is (and is not) allowed.
To help you understand your rights in relation to BC drinking and driving laws 2019, we explore the facts and bust some common myths.
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BC’s drinking and driving laws 2019 – myth vs. fact
Mandatory alcohol screening permits police to demand a breath sample from people in their homes or bars.
Mandatory alcohol screening can only be used if you, as the driver, are in care and control of the vehicle, have been lawfully stopped, and if the police officer has an approved screening device on hand.
Police can use mandatory alcohol screening to come to your house two hours after you arrive home and demand a breath sample.
Mandatory alcohol screening can only take place if:
- Your vehicle is lawfully stopped;
- You, as the driver, are in care and control of the vehicle;
- The police officer has an approved screening device on hand.
There are now steeper penalties for drinking and driving.
A first offender with a reading of 80 to 119mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood would be subject to a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. However, a first offender with a reading of 120 to 159mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood would be subject to a higher fine of $1,500.
Similarly, the minimum fine for first offender with a reading of 160mg or more of alcohol per 100ml of blood has been raised to $2,000. In addition, a first offender who refuses testing would be subject to a $2,000 minimum fine, which is an increase from $1,000.
However, mandatory prison sentences for repeat offenders have remained the same – 30 days for a second offence and 120 days for a subsequent offence.
You can beat a charge if you drink after being stopped by the police.
You may only utilize this defence if:
- You drank after driving;
- There was no reason for you to believe you would need to provide a breath sample; and
- The breath testing result indicates that apart from the post-driving drinking, you would be under 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Police can stop your vehicle for any reason.
Police have long had the power to stop drivers to check to see if they have a valid licence, if they are sober, and if their vehicle is roadworthy. However, police cannot use road safety concerns as a ruse to support an otherwise invalid stop. If a police officer suspects that a driver is involved in criminal activity unrelated to traffic enforcement, the officer cannot rely on traffic safety legislation to stop the vehicle; rather, the officer’s suspicion must meet the test for an investigative detention.
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If you have been charged under the BC drinking and driving laws of 2019, please contact us without delay.