Drunk drivers face stiff penalties

Despite some harsh penalties for impaired driving, some tipsy motorists continue to get behind the wheel.

Despite some harsh penalties for impaired driving, some tipsy motorists continue to get behind the wheel, putting themselves and others on the road at risk.

Cpl Bruce Haley of the Summerland RCMP detachment said police receive numerous reports each day of erratic driving in the community and on Highway 97.

“We get them every day of every week and every month,” he said.

Since the beginning of the year, those calls have included 38 reports of impaired drivers, as well as many other calls about speeding, bad lane changes or other unsafe behaviour.

A total of 18 motorists have been changed, either under criminal charges or under the provincial immediate roadside prohibition legislation.

Haley said the impaired drivers have been out at all hours of the day or night.

One July morning at 6 a.m., police stopped a motorist on Highway 97, driving between 130 and 140 kilometres an hour on a road with a speed limit of 100 km/h.

Other impaired drivers have been stopped and charged at 2:30 p.m.

On July 29, an impaired driver of a motorhome, who was refused service at a liquor store, was later stopped and was unable to provide a breath sample.

He received a 90-day driving prohibition and his motorhome was impounded for 30 days.

While some of the impaired drivers stopped by police are older motorists with ingrained habits, others are young drivers, in their teens and early 20s.

The strong messages against drinking and driving and stiff penalties have been in place for many years.

The present system of immediate roadside prohibitions has been in place since 2010.

Penalties vary under the immediate roadside prohibition.

The first time a driver registers a Warn reading, between 0.05 and 0.08 blood alcohol content, the penalty is a three-day driving prohibition, a possible three-day vehicle impoundment and a $200 fine. Impound and towing fees can exceed $150. The cost of reinstating a license after a prohibition is $250, bringing the total cost to $600. This amount does not include higher insurance premiums.

For the second incident within five years, there is a seven-day driving prohibition, a possible seven-day vehicle impoundment and a $300 fine. Impound and towing fees can top $230. The total costs, including the $250 licence reinstatement fee, is $780.

The third incident within five years results in a 30-day driving prohibition, a 30-day vehicle impoundment, a $400 fine and potential referral to remedial programs. Vehicle and impound fees are $680 or more.

The total cost comes to $1,330.

Those who register a Fail, or a blood alcohol reading of more than 0.08 and those who refuse a breath test will receive a 90-day driving prohibition, a 30-day vehicle impoundment, a $500 fine and potential referral to remedial programs.

The total comes to $1,430.

A reinstated driver’s licence is valid for two years, not the usual five years.

If a driver is required to enrol in the Responsible Driver Program, the cost is $880 plus GST.

Those who are required to get an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles must pay an administrative fee of $150. The total costs of the interlock, including installation and monthly monitoring fees, can top $1,700 for one year.

“To be caught for impaired driving can cost the driver between $4,000 and $5,000 from start to finish,” Haley said.