Deaths drop with tougher drunk driving laws

Web Lead

  • Mar. 28, 2011 8:00 a.m.

Creston RCMP Staff Sgt. Gord Stewart said the province’s crackdown on drunk drivers is having a positive effect.

“Fatalities have dropped by 40 per cent in the province since last September, when the new law was implemented,” he said on Tuesday. “That’s a very encouraging statistic.”

In September, the province introduced a law that allowed for immediate driving prohibitions and vehicle impoundments for drivers who fail roadside screening tests. Drivers who are in accidents or who have previous convictions are still prosecuted under the Criminal Code, but the majority of drivers who have failed the screening tests in the Creston area since September have received suspensions and impoundments under the provincial statute.

It has been rumoured that the government was looking into relaxing the regulations, with pressure coming from the restaurant and pub sector, which has claimed dramatic drops in business since changes were made to the way drinking drivers are dealt with. Earlier this year, the province raised the bar from .05 to .06 per cent blood alcohol to trigger lower-end suspensions, typically three days and no vehicle impoundment.

“It’s certainly positive news and it’s what our government’s policy intention was, to remind British Columbians that drinking and driving can be very dangerous and, in fact, fatal,” Attorney General Barry Penner said in a press release last week.

“What that means in real terms is that there are fewer families that have to suffer the loss of a loved one or someone who’s been critically injured. And, from the legal systems’ perspective, fewer cases will be clogging our courts.”

Stewart said provincial statistics also indicate there are fewer people are getting caught driving while drunk, a sign that public awareness about the new law has had an impact.