Tough laws decrease B.C.'s drinking and driving deaths by 52 per cent

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Drinking and driving / Shutterstock

B.C.’s tough laws have decreased drinking and driving deaths by an unprecedented 52 per cent, three years after they were launched in memory of four-year-old Alexa Middelaer.

The Province originally set its goal to reduce drinking and driving fatalities by 35 per cent by the end of 2013 when it launched the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program on Sept. 20, 2010, in honour of Alexa who was killed by a drunk driver in 2008.

The 52 per cent decrease by the end of last year represents 190 lives that have been saved since the legislation came into effect. Under the IRP program, drinking-and-driving fatalities have dropped significantly to an average of 54 a year, from a prior five-year average of 112.

“This is a day to celebrate a law that is protecting B.C. families. Three years ago, we set a brave and ambitious target by promising to reduce drinking and driving fatalities by 35 per cent in Alexa’s memory,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton. “I’m proud to say that together we beat that target and created real change through our approach to drinking and driving – and that is a promise made and a promise kept.

Quick Facts

  • A 2013 CARBC study says that, beyond the lives it has saved, B.C.’s drinking and driving law has also resulted in significant declines in injuries (23 per cent) and property damage (19.5 per cent).
  • In a 2012 Roadside Alcohol and Drug Survey, 44 per cent fewer drivers had a blood alcohol content (BAC) 0.05 per cent and over – and nearly 60 per cent fewer drivers were at or over the Criminal Code threshold of 0.08 per cent – compared to the June 2010 survey conducted before the IRP program came into effect.
  • Under the IRP program, the penalties for a “warn” IRP (0.05 BAC and above) include the immediate seizure of a driver’s licence for at least three days, a three-day vehicle impoundment, and $200 administrative penalty.
  • For a “fail” IRP (0.08 BAC and above), the penalties include the immediate seizure of a driver’s licence for 90 days, a 30-day vehicle impoundment, and $500 administrative penalty.
  • As of Dec. 31, 2013:
    • More than 61,000 IRPs have been issued since the program’s inception in September 2010.
    • Of the total number of IRPs issued, over 22,000 drivers blew in the “warn” range and over 39,000 blew in the “fail” range, or refused to provide a sample.

Source: BC Government | Image: Drinking and driving via Shutterstock

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