Being a good Samaritan could put you in the hot seat

Being a good Samaritan could make you a party to an offence. Take the instance of an impaired driver who has gone off the road...

Even though our winter driving season is almost over, the situation of stopping to pull an unfortunate driver out of the ditch came to mind.

I think everyone realizes that care has to be exercised in pulling the vehicle out so that another collision doesn’t occur. However, being a good Samaritan could make you a party to an offence.

Take the instance of an impaired driver who has gone off the road.

You feel sorry for them when you stop and find that they are just stuck and not hurt. Sure, they smell of liquor, but they don’t look too bad. A quick pull and everyone is on the way again.

You are now a party to the offence of impaired driving because you have assisted the impaired driver to commit the offence.

Section 21(1)(b) of the Criminal Code makes you liable to the same penalty as the driver. If a collision were to result after that driver went on their way you could also face civil liability in the matter.

These circumstances probably don’t occur too often, but before you pull someone back onto the road take a good look at them and the circumstances before you offer help.

If you have any doubts, offer to go for help rather than providing it yourself. A call to the police will provide both assessment and assistance and remove any risk to yourself.

For more information on this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Friday.

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