British Columbia

B.C.'s drunk driving law means fewer deaths

The number of fatal crashes involving alcohol has decreased by more than 40 per cent since B.C. passed a series of tough impaired driving laws in 2010.

Legislation has been described as strictest impaired driving law in Canada

Tougher driving laws saving lives

8 years ago
Alcohol-related deaths down since B.C. drunk driving laws passed 2:12

The number of fatal crashes involving alcohol has decreased by more than 40 per cent since B.C. passed a series of tough impaired driving laws in 2010.

A study released today by the University of Victoria also found a 23 per cent decline in injuries and a 19.5 percent decline in property damage.

"These results demonstrate that our approach to reducing the amount of alcohol-related injuries and fatalities on our roads is working," Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said in a statement.

"To date, an estimated 104 lives have been saved since B.C.'s impaired driving law came into effect in 2010. At its heart this program is about keeping our roads safe so drivers can get home to their families."

B.C.'s immediate roadside prohibition, described as the strictest impaired driving law in Canada, originally allowed police to issue roadside suspensions, impound cars and levy fines in the hundreds of dollars for drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 or higher.

But the B.C. Supreme Court struck down part of the law in 2011, strengthening the rights of accused impaired drivers to challenge roadside screening tests and appeal immediate roadside prohibitions.

"It’s clear the Immediate Roadside Prohibition legislation saves lives," said Centre for Addictions Research B.C. assistant director Scott Macdonald.

B.C. passed a series of tough impaired driving laws in 2010. (CBC)

"The laws are much more efficient than the laws under the Criminal Code of Canada, and I think that's one of the big stories here: the consequences of being caught are immediate," he said. 

"Our findings suggest every province and territory in Canada should have its own legislation regarding drinking and driving."

Markita Kaulius, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver while she was on her way home from a softball game in May 2011, has been advocating for stricter impaired driving laws.

"It's nice to hear that there is a decrease, pleased to hear that, I applaud the provincial government," Kaulius said.

"Our wish is that everyone will get home safely... you should have the right to be able to get home at the end of the day without a worry, 'Are you going to hit by an impaired driver?'"

The study, conducted by the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research, compared statistics from the 15-year period before and two-year period after the legislation came into effect.


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