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You've been pulled over for impaired driving. What's next?

Though the blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is 0.08 in Canada, British Columbia law enforcement may issue criminal charges or an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) against drivers with a BAC of 0.05 or higher.

If the police reasonably suspect that you are over the legal BAC limit while you are driving or while you have care or control of a vehicle in British Columbia, they may legally require that you take a breathalyzer test. This includes those who are in the driver's seat and have the ability to operate the vehicle, even if the vehicle is parked.

Refusing a test

Refusing a breathalyzer test can result in the same consequences you'd face for failing the test. Possible penalties include:

  • Suspension of driver's license for up to one year
  • Fines between $1,000 and $2,000
  • Alcohol and DUI counselling

These penalties vary depending on the nature of the circumstances and the number of offenses the driver has had. If you are pulled over by police officer over suspicion of impaired driving, it is in your best interests to take the chemical (blood or breath) test, than to refuse it.

Speaking to a lawyer

The police may legally demand that you take a chemical test before speaking with a lawyer.

However, if you are concerned about the legality of the incident, you can exercise your right to silence. While it's important to comply with police procedure during the event, you are not obligated to answer the police if they question you.

In the aftermath of the incident, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your individual circumstances and the options you may have moving forward.

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