An Oak Bay officer was the first to use reinstated impaired driving legislation to take a drunk driver off the road.
Seven months after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the laws unconstitutional, the repercussions for drinking and driving are back. In less than 20 minutes of taking effect at midnight June 15, the region found its first roadside fail using the reinstated rules.
Officers with the region’s Integrated Road Safety Unit stopped drivers near the Johnson Street Bridge and Oak Bay Police Const. Mike Klein-Beekman found the first driver to blow a fail.
“People drive impaired all times of the day. We’ve caught them in the morning, afternoon and night. In this case it was not something I expected that I would be the first person in the province to catch someone under the new immediate roadside prohibition,” said the Oak Bay officer in his first of a three-year secondment with IRSU.
“Once they blew a fail on the (approved screening device) they were arrested for impaired driving,” he added. “In this case the person was arrested, read their full charter rights, taken back to my police car where I conducted a check.”
With no prior drinking driving charges on the driver’s licence, Klein-Beekman opted to go the administrative route now available and offered the driver a second test – one of the changes to the legislation.
“We always did,” Klein-Beekman said. “Where things have changed was the second breath test results would prevail, now it doesn’t. It gives the benefit (of the doubt) to the person who’s driving.”
There are five major changes, said Oak Bay Const. Eric Thompson, who was tasked with training the 27 officers at Oak Bay Police.
Now officers are legislated to inform a driver of his right to a second test; the lowest test prevails; there’s a clear window of opportunity for a second test; the screening instrument calibration is well documented; and the report to the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles is sworn.
“I write long reports because that is the only information the adjudicator has at his disposal to paint a picture of what happened that night,” said Klein-Beekman.
A narrative of signs, symptoms, times and process is outlined chronologically for the report that goes to the superintendent.
“The last thing we want to see is them getting off on little technicalities,” Thompson said. “Anything that can make the system more reliable, anything that can give it more credibility in the eyes of the public is a good thing.”
The first driver nabbed early Thursday had his vehicle impounded for 30 days, lost his licence for three months, and will require an ignition interlock on his vehicle for a year when he does return to the road.
He’ll also face nearly $4,000 in fees and penalties.