IRP program helps curb impaired driving on local highways

The government, RCMP, legislative assemblies and police have tools at their disposal to curb impaired driving.

The government, RCMP, legislative assemblies and police have tools at their disposal to curb impaired driving. While impaired driving is always a problem in Canada, there is an increase of these instances during visitor influx dates and seasons.

“As far as impaired driving goes, it is still a problem, however, most people during Christmas and long weekends, where there is a family holiday people are generally pretty good,” said Sgt. Will Thien of the Elk Valley RCMP. “Impaired driving usually increases ofnthe summer long weekends.  We have an influx of visitors in the wintertime and summertime. In terms of impaired driving I think this year’s impaired driving has gone down. There is a lot of law enforcement activity going on in the area.”

There are provincial legislations in place that allow officers to more aggressively deal with drivers that are, or suspected to be, under the influence than in the past.

“In B.C. we have the provincial legislation as far as the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program. While we have the 24-hour suspension here under the motor vehicle act, a few years ago they introduced the IRP program that was aimed to more aggressively combat impaired driving,” said Thien.

One of the reasons for the IRP’s implementation is because of the amount of time and other resources that are required for an impaired investigation. While these investigations still exist; they are more often used for criminal charges related to impaired investigations.

The IRP program has been challenged in court. Amendments to the program have been made since its introduction. Thien believes programs like IRP are what makes B.C. have some of the strongest legislation in the country.

“The IRP program has been challenged in court in terms of constitutionality, so there have been amendments made for procedures and stuff like that for it. [British Columbia] has some of the strongest legislation so far and I know a lot of provinces are probably wanting to follow suit,” said Thien.

Officers have some leeway with their decisions and equipment.

“If you have no priors we do have the optional discretion of doing the immediate roadside probation. It could be up to a 90-day prohibition, and if you get that there could be a 30-day vehicle impound. So it is pretty progressive, it curtails a lot and raises awareness,” said Thien.