Wednesday, April 16th5.9°C
Breaking Through! - Giovanni Vidotto

IRP sounds like BURP but it ain't

I’m Italian, I make wine and drink a standard glass (150 ml) at dinner. At almost every supper I enjoy a Merlot or Cabernet, but the other night I had run out. After supper I went to visit my parents, and upon returning ran into a police blockade where an officer leaned in toward me and suspiciously asked, “Did you have anything to drink this evening, sir?” I replied with resounding assurance, “Absolutely not!” My assurance also emerged from my practice of getting my wife to drive if we go out after supper.

But, had I consumed my standard glass I would have been breathalyzed and most assuredly would have been given a warn. This would have resulted in an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) and a cascade of effects that would have impacted me financially, socially, vocationally and personally.

Had my blow registered a warn the police would have advised me of my right to challenge the first test by completing a second (within 15 minutes). The result of the second would be used if it read lower than the first. But don’t kid yourself; the second one will more than likely not be lower because a person’s BAC diminishes at an incredibly slow rate (.015 mgs/hr). And don’t believe the nonsense that placing a penny from the sixties beneath your tongue will help.

If I’d gotten an IRP I would have had my car impounded for either three or thirty days, depending on my BAC, and the discretion of the police officer. In 2012, police impounded 20,020 drinking-drivers’ vehicles. In 14,951 cases, drivers received a 30-day impound for a fail. Of the other 5,069 impounds for a warn, 98% were three-day impounds for drivers caught for the first time. The fees for having your car towed and impounded for those periods can be expensive. Besides your vehicle, you may also have your license taken away. And all of this may cost you from between $600 and $4,060 in administrative sanctions and remedial program costs.

If an officer asks you to “blow”, then blow! The penalties for being convicted of a refusal to blow are the same as the penalties for impaired driving or driving with a blood alcohol level that is over .08. You then get charged under the Criminal Code of Canada. Here are the penalties if a driver has a BAC of over .08%

  • 90-day administrative driving prohibition
  • 30-day vehicle impoundment ($700 towing and storage)
  • $500 administrative penalty
  • $250 licence reinstatement fee
  • Required to take the Responsible Driver Program ($880 + tax)

Required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program

  • First offence = 1 year; second = 2 years; third = 3 years
  • $150 program fee; $150 installation fee; $115/month monitoring fee; $50 removal fee

Add it up – it’s expensive!

But is this policy of “IRPing” drivers working? When the Province of British Columbia introduced its IRP legislation in 2010, it set a goal to reduce impaired driving fatalities by 35% by the end of 2013. This goal was exceeded in the first year after implementation. From October 1, 2010, to September 30, 2011, the total number of alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths across B.C. was 68. This represents a decrease of 40% from the 113 such deaths on average in the previous five years. So yes…it’s working quite well.

Getting IRPed can be financially expensive, but it is not as expensive as the personal toll to you and your family, such as having to explain to…

  • your spouse and children
  • your boss why you can’t drive your route
  • your friends why you need them to drive you places so often
  • a date why your car has an interlock device
  • yourself when you feel the guilt and remorse.

IRPs and charges under the Criminal Code of Canada result in job limitations, lost opportunities, troubled relationships, loss of independence, reliance on others, and a host of other effects. But the greatest toll is to your loved ones and the loved ones of your potential victims. Remember, zero tolerance is the law; and it should be your law too.


Read more Breaking Through! articles


About the Author

Drugs and alcohol have been our companions for millennia. We have used them to induce visions, to socialize, to ritualize experience, and to medicate our many problems. Too often we abuse substances; they become problematic and they impact not only ourselves but also the families, friendships and communities in which we live.

Giovanni Vidotto will provide bi-weekly information that explores the many aspects of substance abuse and addiction. He holds a Master’s degree in counselling psychology and has worked in the field for over thirty years. He has served clients in both residential and outpatient treatment facilities, and has been a presenter of workshops and courses on the field of addictions.

He serves clients in his private practice called Breaking Through! You may reach him at 778-363-2232, or you may e-mail him at [email protected]. You may also find more information from his website at

Giovanni's other column on Castanet is Finding Kelowna, and it may be accessed here.  Its purpose is to reveal the startling brilliance of everyday life which may be beautiful, tragic or bizarre.

The information presented in this column is not meant as a replacement for comprehensive, face-to-face counselling or medical treatment.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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