VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – New numbers from Mounties show way more suspected drunk drivers were caught this holiday season than last. The officer in charge of traffic services in the Lower Mainland worries people are confused about a recent Supreme Court ruling on BC’s drinking and driving laws.
Last holiday season 308 offenses were handed out and this year it was 399. Superintendent Norm Gaumont doesn’t know why.
“You know, I, I hope it isn’t because people thought the law — you know the decision by the Supreme Court — had made a difference and people thought they could drink and drive. But certainly I was surprised.”
What’s more surprising is the number of people who refused to blow into a breathalyzer has nearly doubled, 63 this season compared to 37 during the last.
Gaumont suspects it’s for the same reason. “It surprised us. We did see a much larger refusal than we usually have and I think maybe the public got this perception that if they refused, maybe they could get away with it.”
He says refusing to blow is an automatic reason for arrest.
From November 1st to January 2nd, RCMP in the Lower Mainland recommended a combination of impaired charges, 90-day vehicle impounds and administrative driving prohibitions
Other stats from the same time frame show that the RCMP continue to make use of the warn portion of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition legislation. Officers handed out 332 3-day suspensions compared to 240 last year during the same time frame.
The BC Supreme Court is giving the provincial government until the end of June next year to make changes to drunk driving laws. Earlier this month a judge ruled certain parts of the legislation violate people’s charter rights.
Class action lawsuits are being filed by people who have been affected.