KARINA Stampfli gives the car in her driveway a longing look every day as she passes it on her way to the bus stop.
The 26-year-old hasn't been behind the wheel since mid-June, when her licence was suspended following a breath test at a May long weekend roadblock that found her over the legal limit.
Now Stampfli, a personal trainer who lives in North Vancouver, wants to let others know there's a steep price to pay for drinking and driving in the province, in the hope she can prevent them from making the same mistake. She has started a Facebook site called IDIOTIC - impaired driving information on the irreversible consequences - to explain B.C.'s tough new drinking and driving laws in plain language.
"You don't get let off easy now," she said. "You don't."
Stampfli's ordeal began with a night out with friends at the Taphouse in West Vancouver. She had wine with dinner, then 20 ounces of beer (about the equivalent of two cans) at the restaurant. Compared to her friends, who were "sloshed," Stampfli thought she was fine to drive home.
"I hit a roadblock at the Westview Highway entrance," said Stampfli. "'OK, no problem, I'm not puking in my pants or anything,' . . . (I) get to the officer: 'Have you had anything to drink tonight?' I can't lie. I say, 'Yes, I had a drink at the Taphouse.'"
When Stampfli blew into a breathalyzer, the device registered her blood alcohol level at 0.09.
"I was arrested and detained - so handcuffed - I was given a 24-hour suspension; my car was towed and taken away; I was read my rights and brought back to the station," she said.
A second failed test resulted in a 90-day driving ban. While that experience was upsetting enough, Stampfli will be coping with the consequences of her actions for years to come. She's not allowed to drive right now, and when she is finally allowed back behind the wheel, she will have to blow into an interlock ignition device every time she wants to start it - for a year.
The incident will show up on her driving record, affecting her ability to get any job where she is required to drive a car. She was considering a career as a sales representative, a job that would have required her to drive, but now: "I can kiss that goodbye for the next five years."
The financial cost is also adding up. Stampfli paid $160 to get her car out of impound and will have to pay $750 to reinstate her license, $1,000 to take a responsible driver course and $2,000 to have the interlock ignition system installed in her car. She expects her car insurance to increase as well.
Stampfli wants other drivers, young and old, to think twice before getting in the car after a night out.
"If you're going to have more than one drink, leave your car; a bus ride home, a cab ride home, is nothing," said Stampfli. "There's designated driver services if you really, really, really want your car home."
Leaving the car at home really is the best policy, said Cpl. Marlene Morton, a spokeswoman for the North Vancouver RCMP.
"(People) often think they're capable of operating a motor vehicle, and they're really not," said Morton. "Their judgment is skewed by the alcohol, and they may have the impression that they're fine to drive, when they're not."
B.C.'s tough new drinking and driving laws, which were brought back June 14 with some changes required by a court ruling, allow for even swifter and more serious consequences than Stampfli experienced.
According to the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, drivers who test in the 0.05-0.08 "warn" range can have their licenses taken away for three, seven or 90 days, depending on how many times they have been caught. Those who blow above 0.08 can have their license immediately taken away for 90 days and their car impounded for that time. Drivers may also be criminally charged.
To view Stampfli's site, visit www.facebook.com/IDIOTIC. inBC.