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B.C. Police May Cut Back On Holiday Drunk Driver Screening

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British Columbia police expect to scale back their roadside screening program aimed at catching drunk drivers during the holiday season, after a court ruling found part of the province's tough drinking and driving law unconstitutional.

Wednesday's ruling struck down the police's ability to issue hefty prohibitions and penalties on the spot and means police will have to return to the previous process of issuing suspected drunk drivers with a roadside test.

Those drivers who have blown over the legal blood-alcohol limit will be taken back to a police station and given the opportunity to contact a lawyer before undergoing a more sophisticated test.

West Vancouver Police Chief Peter Lepine, president of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, said it takes up to 10 times longer to process a driver that way.

"We'll either have to add more resources to the program and divert our resources from other policing areas or we'll shorten the time limit that we do the program and we'll do the best with what we have."

Police across the province are already operating under the old rules following the court judgment, which found that found that B.C.'s laws violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when a driver is screened and found to fail a breathalyzer test by blowing above 0.08 per cent, as it gave the police power to impose criminal-like consequences with no opportunity given to the motorist to challenge the decision.

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