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12 Hour Suspensions

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Last week's column looked at the 24 hour prohibition from driving for all drivers who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 50 mg% or higher and were either the driver of or who had care and control of a vehicle on a highway or industrial road. This week we'll look at a special suspension that applies to drivers who are in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP). These drivers are subject to a condition of their license that prohibits them from having alcohol in their body while they are driving or in care and control.

If a police officer believes that these drivers have any alcohol in their body, they proceed in the same manner as the 24 hour prohibition, but must use an Approved Screening Device (ASD) to test the driver's breath. If the ASD analysis indicates that the new driver has a positive BAC that is not over 50 mg% then the officer may suspend the new driver's license for 12 hours. The suspension cannot be given by admission or observation alone as is the case with a 24 hour prohibition.

There is no provision in the Motor Vehicle Act to impound the vehicle of a new driver who has been suspended for 12 hours.

A single 12 hour suspension or 24 hour prohibition will bring further consequences for the new driver. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles will take action in the form of a driving prohibition for a period of 1 to 3 months. The prohibition period increases if the driver incurs another prohibition or suspension. In addition, a new driver must be suspension or prohibition free for a period of two years in order to take the test to obtain a full privilege driver's license.

The World Health Organization states that alcohol and driving without seat belts remain key factors in young driver crashes and resulting deaths and injuries. While not all drivers in the GLP are young drivers the 12 hour suspension is another tool to sanction those who choose to drink and drive. Should it be extended to apply to all drivers in B.C.?