British Columbia has unique drunk driving offences and punishment that are considered the harshest in Canada. All impaired driving offences in Canada begin with a criminal investigation for criminal DUI. Depending on how the investigation goes, the driver may find themselves with a criminal impaired driving charge in addition to an immediate BC driving prohibition, or a driving prohibition without a criminal charge.
As the police investigation unfolds, the police make decisions based on the evidence they obtain. Police officers may have the discretion as to the punishment that follows.
Police Approved Screening Devices (hand-held breathalyzer) used in BC display “Warn” when the driver blows .59 and no more than the criminal-blood alcohol content. When this happens, the police are instructed and required to issue an immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) of up to 30 days duration. The official level is .05, but the devices have a margin of error and therefore you need to be over to .06 to blow “Warn.” If a driver blows between .05 and .059 the police can still give the driver a 24-hour driving prohibition or arrest them for impaired driving if they think the evidence establishes the driver was impaired even at that low level.
For class 7 drivers (N and L drivers) any alcohol reading on an Approved Screening Device will trigger a driving prohibition and if the level is in the criminal range, there may be criminal impaired driving charges in addition to the driving prohibition.
Being at .08 and up while driving or two hours AFTER driving is a criminal offence. The police investigation begins as a criminal DUI investigation. Depending on the evidence and how the investigation unfolds, a driver with a blood-alcohol content at or over .08 can end up with a driving prohibition OR a driving prohibition and a criminal charge.
In most DUI case in BC the police use an Approved Screening Device. Drivers are required to provide a sample usually there at the roadside. If the driver blows “Fail” in most cases they will be offered the opportunity to blow into a second device to challenge the reading of the first. Drivers can accept the one Fail or try again on the different device. If they chose to blow once or blow two Fails, most drivers will be issued an Immediate Roadside Prohibition of 90-days (90-day IRP). The consequences are harsh including fees paid to the government, DUI school and in some cases paying for a blow box in your car.
A blood alcohol concentration in your body of .08 and up in the two hours AFTER driving is a crime. Most people are tested on a big beige breathlyzer in the 2 hours after driving which is why the government wrote the law this way. Drivers who are charged with the criminal offence of .08 and up, get a 90-day driving prohibition that begins immediately. They also have to go to court to face a judge. A conviction for criminal DUI in BC comes with an automatic criminal record, a one year disqualification across Canada from operating almost anything that can be driven and a large fine.
If a driver refuses to blow into an Approved Screening Device or the officer thinks the driver is pretending not to be able to blow, the officer can charge the driver with the crime and give them a 90-day driving prohibition, or they can just give them a 90-day prohibition. Either way, the punishment is harsh.
If the police take the driver back to blow into the big beige breathalyzer at the police station, then the driver is issued a 90-day driving prohibition and a criminal charge, with a minimum fine of $2000,00, a criminal record and a minimum 1-year driving disqualification.
Every type of DUI and impaired driving case in British Columbia can be challenged and many DUIs can be successfully beaten if you have the right defence strategy.
Impaired driving law is a highly specialized area of the law. Family lawyers handle family law. Impaired driving lawyers handle impaired driving law. An experienced impaired driving lawyer devotes their practise to this particularly complex area of the law.
When making the decision to hire an impaired driving lawyer, check to see if you lawyer is a member of a larger firm that handles mostly driving law. Does your lawyer have the police breathalyzers? Do your lawyers take ongoing training with retired police officers, expert witnesses and scientists? Are your lawyers involved in the top DUI organizations in Canada and the United States?
Driving law is specialized. The top driving lawyers devote their practise to helping people who find themselves in trouble with the police due to a driving case. Because the arguments are mostly technical, the top driving lawyers in Canada and British Columbia are usually deeply knowledgeable about the science of breath testing, the ever developing law of impaired driving and the various complex steps to defending a drunk driving case.
BC Driving Lawyers are a group of the most highly recognized impaired driving lawyers in BC. Our members win awards for their contribution to DUI law. We take on tough cases. We reject the idea of pleading guilty to a DUI. We run trials. We take matters to higher courts. We test equipment. We meet with scientists. We know our stuff.
We’re serous about impaired driving defence. If you seriously need to beat a DUI charge in BC, give us a call and we’ll get to work for you.