You Still Have To Be Fair, Even To Drunk Drivers

I’m generally one of the first to argue that there’s no such thing as a drunk driving law that’s too tough, but what British Columbia isdoingis seriously testing the limits of that point of view.

Under the new laws, drivers caught with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher or those who refuse to give a breath sample will:

  • Get a three-month driving ban.
  • Get a $500 administrative penalty, and a $250 driver’s licence reinstatement fee.
  • Have their vehicle impounded for 30 days.
  • Have to pay for the towing and impoundment costs
  • Have to pay for the mandatory use of an ignition interlock device for one year.
  • Face possible criminal charges.

The total cost adds up to almost $4,000, and it can all be triggered during a roadside stop by a police, without any immediate criminal charges or time in court.

It’s that last bit I have a problem with. Making people who are stupid enough to get behind the wheel when they have no business being there pay for that stupidity, yeah, that sounds great, light ’em up. But not providing those people the proper chance to give their side of things in court as is every person’s right, that’s just not how things work in a free country. sorry, BC government, you lose. As much as I downright fucking despise drunk drivers, I also know that police make mistakes, and that some of them are complete pricks who aren’t making mistakes at all, abusing their power because its their power and they think they can get away with it.

But Public Safety Minister Mike de Jong says 133 people died in B.C. last year because of impaired driving, and the new rules are designed to quickly change people’s behaviour without tying up the courts with legal cases.

“It seems the only way you can change behaviour is by imposing sanction that has dramatic impact on people’s lives,” said de Jong.

Ok sure, but it also has to have the right impact on the right people at the right time. The best laws and the best intentions don’t mean a thing if you’re rounding up all the wrong people. All it does is show the citizens of the province that they’re living in a police state that has no use for the concepts of rights and fairness, and if that’s the goal, then the goal needs to change, and change yesterday.

I sincerely hope that the first person who gets dinged under these new rules decides to take the government to court and challenge them. There’s no way, unless I’m missing something, that they should be able to survive a challenge on constitutional grounds, and the government and the police need to be reminded that we still have one of those.

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