MADD Canada

MADD Canada

September 29, 2010 09:31 ET

Criticisms of BC's Impaired Driving Sanctions Inaccurate

MADD Canada takes issue with claims that B.C.’s impaired driving sanctions lack an appeal process and penalize social drinkers.

Attention: News Editor, Transportation Editor VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, MEDIA RELEASE--(Marketwire - Sept. 29, 2010) - Sanctions for drivers with BACs of .05% or higher do not disregard the appeal process, nor do they penalize the social drinker who has a drink with dinner or a beer after the game, says MADD Canada in response to criticisms of British Columbia's impaired driving laws.

"Sanctions at the .05% level are an important tool in the effort to reduce alcohol-related crashes," said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. "B.C.'s sanctions will save lives and prevent injuries on our roads. That is why we feel a strong need to respond to some of the inaccurate statements being made."

As of September 20th, drivers caught with BACs in the warn range of .05% to .08% face 3-day licence suspensions and vehicle impoundments and are subject to fines. Repeat infractions within a five-year period result in escalating suspensions, vehicle impoundments and fines, along with mandatory education programs and mandatory alcohol ignition interlocks. Drivers with BACs of .08% and over face 90-day suspensions, $500 fines, 30-day vehicle impoundments and mandatory remedial driver programs.

The sanctions at .05% are not new. British Columbia has been suspending the licences and impounding the vehicles of impaired drivers at the .05% level for a number of years. The recent changes reflect an extension of the suspensions and impoundments from 24 hours to 3 days for a first infraction.

MADD Canada welcomes the changes, noting they are the toughest impaired driving administrative sanctions in the country.

"The goal here is to prevent alcohol-related crashes. We know that strong administrative programs such as the one in B.C. work," Mr. Murie said.

Critics have taken aim at the laws, saying there is no appeal process for drivers. In fact, a well established appeal process is in place and is clearly outlined on the Government of British Columbia web site (

- Drivers who fail a road side breath test and are assessed a driving prohibition can file an application within seven days to have the prohibition reviewed by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. The Superintendent considers all available information from police and the driver, and issues a decision within 21 days.

- If the appeal is successful, the record is removed from the driver's history, any impoundments are revoked and all fines, towing and storage costs and reinstatement fees are waived or refunded.

- Drivers who wish to appeal a decision of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles can file an application under the Judicial Review Procedures Act to have the decision reviewed by the Supreme Court.

The sanctions and impoundments are immediate, and therefore may be concluded by the time an appeal decision is made. However, in the case of successful appeals, the prohibition is removed from the driver's record and fines and reinstatement fees are waived or refunded.

Critics have suggested that the new laws make police "judge, jury and executioner". Yet, as Mr. Murie states, "From MADD Canada's perspective, it is the impaired drivers who act as judge, jury and executioner because they put lives at risk each time they get behind the wheel impaired."

"No one has the right to drink, drive and kill or injure someone," Mr. Murie said. "These administrative sanctions reinforce that by taking impaired drivers off the roads."

MADD Canada is also concerned with inaccurate suggestions that the laws penalize the social drinker. The suggestion that a person will be over .05% if they have a glass of wine with dinner is inaccurate. It takes more than one drink for most people to reach the .05% BAC level. Estimates of BACs in relation to time, weight and standard Canadian drinks indicate a 185 lb. man can have three standard drinks over a two-hour period and not go over the .05% BAC limit. Similarly, a 130 lb. woman can have two standard drinks over a two-hour period and not go over the limit.

"While we would certainly encourage people to separate their drinking from driving entirely, we want people to understand that the .05% BAC law does not infringe on someone's ability to have a glass of wine or a drink with dinner, or join friends for a beer after work," Mr. Murie said. "It does not impact what most Canadians would consider to be social drinking."

For hospitality industry members who are concerned about impaired driving laws affecting their businesses, MADD Canada encourages them to come together with one another and other stakeholders to look for ways to support their customers' needs within the existing laws.

"For customers who are drinking beyond the .05% BAC limit, drink establishments, governments, organizations such as ours and other stakeholders all need to ensure that customers know they have options for getting home safely," Mr. Murie said.

MADD Canada has long promoted the benefits of .05% sanctions and suspensions. We applaud the Government of British Columbia for the leadership it has shown in implementing this program that will save lives and prevent injuries by reducing alcohol-related crashes.
/For further information: Tracy Crawford, Chapter Services Manager – BC/Yukon Region at 1-877-676-6233.
Andrew Murie, Chief Executive Officer at 1-800-665-6233, ext. 224.

Contact Information

  • Tracy Crawford, Chapter Services Manager - BC/Yukon, MADD Canada
    Primary Phone: 877-676-6233