With the most modern technology implemented to measure a driver’s blood alcohol level, the RCMP is ensuring the most accurate readings to identify impaired drivers. Those who are determined to be under unfit driving conditions may face severe penalties. 

On Thursday, December 15, the Herald met up with Sgt. Josh Roda at the local RCMP detachment to discuss the procedure which the force takes on the field, when identifying those who are driving under the influence of alcohol. 

“We have lots of grounds to stop vehicles in B.C.,” he said. “We can check for valid insurance, check driver’s license, or if we believe the vehicle has committed a driving infraction.”

The RCMP comes across suspected impaired drivers through the following ways:

Counterattack checkstops

Officers on the field spotting a suspected impaired driver on the road

Anonymous reports from the public of a suspected impaired driver

Motor Vehicle Accident sites

“If a police officer pulls a member of the public over, they can expect that we’re going to go up and talk to them,” said Roda. 

“If we believe that the person has signs of impairment, such as bloodshot eyes, the smell of liquor coming from the vehicle or coming from the drivers breath, and slurred speech. We can ask the driver to come out of the vehicle, and based on how much grounds we believe we have, we can detain that person, arrest that person, or read them the approved screening device demand.” 

The driver will then be asked to provide a sample of their breath for an approved roadside screening device. The device will put out either a warn or fail reading instantaneously.

A sample unit of an approved screening device. Izaiah Reyes/Herald

From there, the police may opt to proceed with charges by way of the Motor Vehicle Act, which does not give the driver a criminal record but will go towards a person’s driving record. A driver may lose their vehicle for 30 days and their license for 90 days when charged through this act. 

Roda said that drivers can get charged with impaired driving either through the Motor Vehicle Act of B.C., or through the Criminal Code of Canada. The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits drivers from operating any vehicle when their blood/alcohol concentration is over 0.08, while B.C. laws prohibits any motor vehicle operation when concentration is over 0.05.

When charged under the Criminal Act, an officer detains the driver and brings them back to the local detachment. The driver’s blood alcohol level will be measured through the Intox EC/IR II, the standard blood alcohol measuring instrument used by the RCMP. The results will be then provided to the courts for legal proceedings.

“After blowing onto the mouthpiece, the machine may take five or 10 seconds to analyze, and then the results will show up on the screen,” Roda explained. “ It measures the deep lung air breath sample to tell us what the blood alcohol level is.” 

The machine is the standard model for measuring blood alcohol levels. It is calibrated through two methods; a wet bath or through a dry gas canister. After the breath analysis, the Intox EC/IR II will print a ticket which will have the readings. This is what gets submitted to the courts for evidence. 

“You cannot cheat this,” said Roda. “Our machine is so accurate that the courts go off of its readings.” 

The RCMP and the Herald asks people to avoid driving when under the influence of alcohol. If planning a night out drinking, please have a designated driver, or get a taxi. Do not drink and drive.