If you drive, don't drink and if you drink, don't drive

Drinking and driving

Whoosh! A car overtook my police vehicle at 144 km/h in the posted 110 km/h zone.

It's dark at 11:30 pm and at that speed, any animal or object on the road won't be identified in time and a collision is almost sure to occur.

The unsafe speed was only the beginning of the story.

"Sir, may I have your licence and registration please?" I asked.

Sniff, sniff.

"How much alcohol have you had to drink today?"

"One beer is all I had," was the reply.

The roadside screening device said otherwise though.

The driver blew a warn, meaning that his blood alcohol level was between 60 and 99 mg%. He was issued a speeding ticket, an Immediate roadside prohibition and his vehicle was impounded.

Police may now test any driver for the presence of alcohol in their body as part of Canada's mandatory screening law. It is no longer necessary to develop a reasonable suspicion in order to demand breath samples at the roadside.

"Can the passenger drive? He's sober."

"Sure, but he won't mind volunteering a sample, no strings attached, to show me that he is sober, would he?"

He did, and he blew a warn as well.

"But I haven't had anything to drink!" he said.

"Sir, the device measures alcohol. It won't read anything unless you have been drinking." I said.

"Well, I had a glass of wine with dinner, but it's not like I drank a case of beer or anything," he replied.

There are two things wrong with that statement. If the passenger was sober, he should have been driving. A sober passenger is also foolish to accept a ride from an impaired driver.

I'm a breath testing technician. I know that for these two men to register a warn, it takes more than the consumption of one beer or one glass of wine. The driver was lying to me and the passenger doesn't know the difference between impaired and drunk.

I don't want to share the highway with either one of them.

A total of 10,787 immediate roadside prohibitions, administrative driving prohibitions and 24-hour suspensions were issued to impaired drivers in B.C. between the beginning of January and the end of August this year.

Impaired drivers are responsible for an average of 65 traffic fatalities in B.C. each year.

The bottom line here is still if you drink, don't drive, and if you drive, don't drink. Simple.

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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