BC’s New Liquor Laws

Last modified on September 20th, 2010

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard about BC’s New Drinking and Driving Laws, which are now in affect. Here are the bullet points:

  • Warning range 0.05-0.08 (1-4 drinks): 3-day ban + $200 fine… additional fees make total $600
  • Greater than 0.08 (2-5 drinks): 90-day ban + 30-day car impound + $500 fine + possible criminal charge… additional fees of towing, interlock ignition device, responsible driver program, etc make total up to $4,060

I fully recognize that drinking and driving kills people every year, but these changes seem like they are completely targeted at making money for the province instead of keeping people safe. Having recently taken the serving it right course, I can tell you that a person of my height and weight can have about three drinks over the course of two hours and be under 0.08. I would definitely be over 0.05 though. So basically, the average person probably can’t have more than one drink at a bar before risking hitting a 0.05 BAC. Someone needs to do the calculations, but I suspect that for almost anyone, two drinks over anything less than three or four hours would make you impaired by these new standards.

Maybe I’m naive, but I have a hard time believing it’s the guys blowing 0.05 who are killing people. Having lived in a small town most of my life, it’s pretty routine for people here to hit a pub on a weekend, have a few beers, watch a hockey or a football game, then head home. If people drink too much, they call a friend or take a cab. If they have a few beers over three or four hours, they drive home. That used to be legal, precisely because it has minimal impact on judgement.

I personally don’t know of a single person who was even involved in or caused an accident after just a few beers at the pub. I do however know about lots of accidents where people were rip roaring drunk and decided to take the 2,000 pound vehicle for a spin. That’s stupid, and people die. By all means, crack down on the people who are over 0.08, especially if they are repeat offenders. But 0.05 just seems like a money grab (and I suspect cops will be giving out tickets and 24 hour impairments based on their *discretion* for values below that as well).

How will this affect bar owners and servers? Servers have a responsibility to make sure you don’t leave the establishment while impaired. If 0.05 is now an official cut off, that would mean most women would probably blow that after no more than a single glass of wine. Does that mean waiters and waitresses should cut people off after having a glass of wine?

Between the new mobile phone laws (which I’m convinced don’t make an ounce of difference towards safety), the new HST, and now the fairly archaic liquor laws, I suspect a lot of people are going to simply stop going out at all.

15 responses to “BC’s New Liquor Laws”

  1. Jen says:

    I think the consequences will be far more disastrous.

    When you give people a limit they can work within (the 0.08 limit and former punishments along with it) they will generally attempt to do the right thing.

    Making it difficult (or impossible) to do the right thing means people just won’t. And then it’s a slippery slope. I think people who were previously on the fence about whether they should be driving while impaired will now be “in for a penny, in for a pound” and worry less about being responsible and more about playing the odds that they won’t get caught (if I’m going to have my life altered for as little as 0.05, why not now drive at 1.0, or 1.5).

    Compounding that is the fact that taking people’s licenses away (especially for repeat offenders) doesn’t often do a damn thing for making sure they aren’t still driving on the roads. Those who care about being law-abiding citizens already aren’t going to be caught driving while impaired. Those who care less are just going to continue being the same menaces they always have.

  2. Iris says:

    I believe this & the mobile phone laws are just baby steps until it becomes acceptable to ban both completely.

    Also, you’re right, the handsfree calls while driving don’t make driving while talking any safer. The driver is still just as distracted. Several studies have proven it several times over.

  3. Dale Mugford says:

    Can you all just wear helmets and stay home, please? And if you must go out, please wear a marshmallow suit and stay on the grass.

  4. Duncan says:

    Fining people with really low BAC levels is so effective in reducing the number of drunks on the road and keeping us safe. *sarcasm*

    If they were serious about making the roads safer, they’d focus on stepping up patrols and tougher penalties on the problem drinkers.

  5. Duane Storey says:

    Or diverting money from patrolling and checkpoints into transit that people can use to get to and from bars. Paying $40 in cab fares to go to the pub to drink $10 worth of beer is stupid.

  6. VancityAllie says:

    Totally agree Duane, and it’s sad, because Vancouver (and many places in BC) are already becoming towns where people just don’t bother to go out anymore.

    I know this is a touchy subject because of people who have been personally impacted by drunk driving or in general, just hearing about it on the news and through friends (my coworker Brian Wood recently killed by an impaired driver to name one close to home)… but like you said, it’s not people who have a drink or two, it’s people who get wasted.

    I’m not sure what the solution is, but I also don’t think this is the right one.

  7. Ernie says:

    I don’t get it, we all suppose to just stay home and lick our nuts like good dogs?1 or 2 beer a hour doesn’t hurt anybody, not being able to have those couple after work or out for supper going to hurt alot of people?I guess they might while shut ICBC down cause nobody will have a licience in a year!

  8. Jen says:

    Also, I love it when someone makes my point for me. From the CBC today: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/09/22/bc-vernon-impaired-driving.html

    A man in Vernon was dinged for blowing over 0.05 (but less than 0.08), and was caught driving a company car two days later.

    Removing licenses does nothing.

  9. Duane Storey says:

    It does one thing very effectively, as evidenced by your story – it sets a person up for a future failure, which of course leads to more revenue for the government.

  10. Dj says:

    I am one of those people who are very much against drinking under the influence of drugs and alchohol .. But and that is a big BUT..!
    The new laws have taken away the responsible people away from enjoying a beer or wine with dinner or after work …
    The police have to much control over what they decide that the responsible people will not drink at all and the serious drinkers that get wasted are still goin to do the same — It’s just a cash grab so that these damn government workers can make more
    Money and spend money where they want

    Very pissed off !!

  11. Dj says:

    New laws are simply cash grab ..
    The people that are responible are goin to be hurt by it and the drunk drivers will continue matter what they do

  12. Linda says:

    Well…after a couple of years in a rough Real Estate market and the new HST killing the market further, I was thinking that perhaps I should have stayed in the Hospitality Industry…but no…our Government has now managed to kill that industry too! How many bars and restaurants will be shutting their doors within the next 6 months? I bet 50%!
    I so feel for all of the servers and bartenders that will no longer be able to make ends meet. It used to be great to live here…now there are so many severe rules and taxes that I am not so proud to be a Canadian.

  13. Owen says:

    I know my restaurant is feeling the effects of this law. We have seen guests ordering less wine, sales have dropped. We thought the HST would effect us but in reality it was been more impacted by this law

  14. Bill says:

    This not just a government scam. It’s also a Liberal government sponsored swindle when it comes to Stroh Health Care. A private for profit company licenced to deliver the Responsible Driver Program. Two Years ago, and for the first time in my life I was charged with blowing .09 (was that rounded up?). No dangerous diving, the report said I was driving safely. The Govt website said I could do attend a program at a community bas alcohol treatment centre. I did so in Courtenay for four months, two to three times week. Had to hitchike to town and back. Sent in the counselling report, a medical report describing a disability I have,as well as a clean abstract going back some 20 years (including while in Ontario). The RDP said I still had to pay the Stroh Fee! Its been now over two years without a vehicle, as I am unable to work.

  15. Glen says:

    Let me say this. Two and a half years ago, I was charged with a DUI. I wasn’t in a vehicle, and there were no keys in the suspected vehicle. It was on one of the Gulf Islands. Prior to that a few months, my driver’s licence had expired by two days. I had forgotten to renew it. As I was driving up to work, I had a police cruiser, and a police SUV, two officers in each, race up behind me, one pulled out front, and both vehicles forced my 73 Chevelle SS almost into the ditch. All four officers, had their hands on their firearms. FOR A TWO DAY LATE LICENCE RENEWAL? No alcohol involved at all. It gets better…a few months later, this so called DUI comes into play. I was going to fight it in court, as my lawyer suggested. They gave me 21 days more to drive until I would be prohibited for 3 months..On the 21st day, I decided to go for one last drive in my Chevelle. As I drove past a police cruiser, the officer swung around, and chased me down. Again..zero alcohol involved. The officer said..Glen, you’re drinking, I can smell it on you. I said yeah, I’ve been drinking tea all morning, take a reading right now. He didn’t. However, he felt the need to impound my Chevelle. The kicker here was I was parked right outside an impound yard at a body shop. He calls a tow truck, and they tow my Chevelle way out the other side of town. Two weeks later, they towed it back to where I was originally. The officer said it will sit in impound for 60 days. On the 58th day, the officer came up to me, and said Glen, I believe you shouldn’t have had the 60 day impound. NICE!!!…now I have an extra 30 days impound fees, and a few more tows back and forth. I went up to where my 73 Chevelle SS was in it’s cage, and said goodbye. On top of that, these same officers before the DUI charge, had pulled me over on 3 occasions, and said I had been drinking, and issued me 24 hour suspensions. However, only one of those times, after 2 beer with lunch, I wouldn’t have been even close to .08. The other 2 times, no alcohol involved. Yet they felt the need to tow my car anyway, and they even offered me a ride home. I said…yeah right. Now because of these bogus 24 hour suspensions, I’m expected to pay almost a grand for the Stroh’s program. Zero points on my licence for years, and I do consider myself to be an excellent driver. My point here is the cops, ICBC, our laws, all play with our lives however they feel like. I lost my Collector car 73 Chevelle SS, had to plead guilty to the driving charge, because I had it transferred to the mainland. They will transfer if you plead guilty. I had sold my fiberglass kit car to get to the Island to attend court, on 2 occasions, just to have them postpone it another month. Drinking/driving is 100% wrong, I’ll back that up completely, however what gives any officer the right to f@ck with my life and assets like that? Its a game to them, and what happens if they get caught drinking and driving…nothing…a suspension with full pay probably. It’s all about the money, and the headgames. Drinking driving is worse now, than before these new rules. I will be driving here in the next week or so. But 2597.00 dollars is what it is going to cost me, but after I am back on the road, I will pursue an investigation into this mistreatment I’ve received, plus the loss of my Chevelle. Pretty sad, that you can’t even drive a nice car without being a target

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