Friday, December 19, 2008

BC Drinking Drivers Face $1560/Yr Charge

THOUSANDS OF DRINKING DRIVERS
PUT ON NOTICE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Up to 4,000 more British Columbians whose driving records show evidence of drinking and driving will now be forced to provide breath samples every time they operate their vehicles, under an expanded ignition interlock program announced today by Solicitor General John van Dongen.

“We introduced ignition interlock in 2005 to target some of B.C.’s most irresponsible, high-risk drinking drivers,” said van Dongen. “But as the death and injury tolls associated with driving under the influence of alcohol remain stable, we know that we can do even more to ensure those who put safe road users at risk are dealt with quickly and effectively.”

Starting Feb. 1, 2009, anyone who acquires a single drinking-driving conviction will be allowed to operate only an interlock-equipped vehicle. The requirement will now also apply to anyone who accumulates two 90-day administrative driving prohibitions or three 24-hour roadside suspensions within a five-year period. Participation will be mandatory for a minimum of one year, and the requirement goes into effect even after any related driving prohibition has ended.

The enhanced, mandatory program is not retroactive and will only apply to offences, prohibitions and suspensions received on or after Feb. 1.

In the past, participation in the program was at the discretion of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. Ignition interlocks have been installed in more than 500 vehicles to date in B.C., and the program currently has more than 300 active participants.

The dashboard-mounted devices require drivers to provide breath samples to start and continue operating their vehicles. Research shows interlock reduces recidivism by 45 to 90 per cent among both first-time and repeat offenders.

“We want to use an expanded, mandatory ignition interlock program to build on the tough legislation, tactics and tools we’ve introduced over the past several years – like automatic vehicle impoundment, civil forfeiture and mandatory alcohol rehabilitation – as part of our effort to make our roads safer,” said van Dongen.

Interlock participants are required to pay for enrolment, installation, monthly monitoring and the eventual removal of the device from their vehicles. Currently, a driver assigned ignition interlock for one year would face a total bill of $1,560. Any participant caught driving a non-interlock-equipped vehicle loses their driver’s licence.

In a 2007 survey by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, more than 80 per cent of Canadians supported mandatory ignition interlocks for drinking drivers. B.C. is among nine provinces and one territory with an interlock program.

More than 100 people die each year on B.C. roads at the hands of drinking drivers, and thousands more are injured.


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