Loading articles...

Court ruling disincentive for designated drivers: MADD

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A ruling from the BC Supreme Court is being called a “powerful disincentive” for designated drivers.

If you are injured in a crash caused by a drunken passenger, you may not be covered by your insurance — a finding that has some safe ride programs more than a little concerned.

In a ruling Monday, a BC Supreme Court justice found that drivers are not entitled to any compensation though their third party liability coverage if they are hurt in a crash which was caused by a drunk passenger.

The case involved a woman who has been denied an $800,000 dollar injury settlement from ICBC after an accident where her intoxicated husband grabbed the steering wheel.

The Vancouver Sun reports the Justice Anthony Saunders found current statutes only cover situations where a passenger causes death or injury to someone outside the vehicle, adding “this would appear to be a powerful disincentive to anyone acting as a designated driver, when there was any risk of a passenger acting irresponsibly.”

Safe ride groups like Operation Red Nose, which get drunk drivers and their cars home, are reviewing the decision but Mothers Against Drunk Driving is more concerned about how it will affect attitudes toward volunteering to be a designated driver.

“I don’t think it will affect the professional programs because they take a lot of these things into account both in how they insure themselves and where they place drunken passengers,” says Andrew Murie, CEO of MADD Canada.

“It’s a bit of a wake up call for people who are just doing what they feel is a good deed. They might have to rethink where they place that drunken passenger in the vehicle and they might have second thoughts about taking really intoxicated or obnoxious passengers who might interfere with their driving,” he tells News1130.

“There are many cases, especially among young people, where you have five or six very intoxicated people and you have one sober driver and they’re not all quiet passengers. We have to, as a society, allow these people — both professional and non-professional — to perform this task. Otherwise we are going to have way more impaired driving deaths and injuries.”

Murie feels it is also a “wake up call” for ICBC and the provincial government to review laws and liabilities surrounding drunk passengers.