Don’t let a police road check scare you! Be informed and protect your rights.
The drunk driving laws in BC are unfair and heavily weighted in favor of the police. It is possible to blow a fail, have your licence suspended and your car impounded without having consumed alcohol.
If you feel uncomfortable about protecting your rights – take a moment to consider how losing your licence would affect your work and personal life. Be polite and assertive.
Know your rights at a police road check.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that while a police road check may be a justifiable intrusion of a driver’s personal privacy, a driver is not required to answer police questions. Under the law in BC you are only required to provide the police officer with your driver’s licence and registration. You are not required to participate in your own prosecution.
- You are not required to admit to drinking. If the officer asks you any question, you can respond with “I have nothing to say about that” and if the officer persists, repeat this phrase and ask “Am I free to go?” If the officer says “No”, then state your right to speak with a lawyer – the officer must provide you with the opportunity to speak to one immediately.
- If the officer demands that you blow into a screening device, you must comply – you can be charged and/or lose your licence if you refuse. If the police officer does not have probable grounds for the demand and you have your licence suspended you will likely be successful on appeal.
If you tell the police officer you have had ANY alcohol – they will make you blow!
There is no legal requirement that a driver must answer a police officer’s questions. You are only required to provide your driver’s licence and registration. That’s it.
You must provide a breath sample if the police officer demands one.
It is an offence to refuse to provide a breath sample. If you refuse, you could attract an immediate 90-day suspension as a penalty. If a driver in BC blows and fails, the police officer is supposed to offer a second test on a different ASD (Approved Screening Device). A driver is free to decline the second test and in their best interest to do so. Why decline the second test?
Well, we believe the ASD’s used by police are unreliable and a second test on a faulty device may only make things worse.
There are also cases where the police officer provided a second test but insisted on using the same ASD. It is easier to overturn one bad result on a bad machine than it is to overturn two.
Get a blood test immediately.
Sometimes, even if you have consumed any alcohol, you fail the test (which can occur for a variety of reasons). Immediately go to the nearest hospital emergency or medical walk-in clinic and request a blood test called a ‘toxicology screen’. Explain to the Emergency Room or Walk-In Clinic staff that it is urgent and then follow up with your regular medical care provider.
File your suspension review as soon as possible.
If you receive a roadside suspension you only have 7 days to file for a review. We believe the BC government has intentionally imposed this tight timeline to make it difficult for drivers to challenge their roadside prohibitions. If you do not file an application for review, your right to do so is extinguished and you will have to live with the consequences of your suspension.
How do you do this? In order to file an appeal, go to any ICBC Driver Services office, pay the filing fee and fill out the form. Under the “Grounds for Appeal” section, be sure to check every single box.
Finally, don’t go through this alone!
Consult a lawyer specialized in driving law before tackling a suspension. We believe the system can be unfair to an unrepresented driver.
Always be prepared for and know your rights when dealing with a police road check.