B.C.’s first year with Canada’s toughest roadside penalties for impaired driving saw alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths reduced by 40 per cent.
Premier Christy Clark made the announcement last Wednesday, the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims in Canada.
In addition, the Province will contribute $40,000 this year toward establishing Alexa’s Bus, a mobile road safety bus that will focus on impaired driving education and enforcement.
“In honour of Alexa Middelaer, a four-year-old girl whose life was cut short by impaired driving, we set a goal to reduce impaired driving fatalities by 35 per cent by the end of 2013,” said Clark in a press release last week.
“Just one year later, preliminary data shows we are already exceeding that with a 40 per cent reduction. That’s 45 more families in B.C. who have been able to keep a loved one safe from impaired drivers,” she said.
From October 1 2010, to September 30 2011, the total number of alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths across B.C. was 68. This represents a decrease of 40 per cent from the 113 such deaths on average in each of the previous five years.
B.C. police agencies have backed up the deterrent and life-saving value of the new penalties with strong enforcement. Between September 20 2010, when the new sanctions came into effect, and September 30 2011: Police across B.C. report having served 23,366 immediate roadside prohibitions to drinking drivers.
Of these, 15,401 were to drivers who blew in the “fail” range (i.e., with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 per cent or over) or refused to provide a breath sample.
Just under eight thousand were to drivers who blew in the “warn” range (i.e., provided a breath sample between 0.05 and 0.08 per cent).
Police impounded 20,020 drinking-drivers’ vehicles at the roadside.
In 14,951 cases, drivers received a 30-day impound for a “fail”.
Of the other 5,069 impounds for a “warn”, 98 per cent were three-day impounds for drivers caught a first time under the new rules. (Vehicle impoundment is at the discretion of police on the first or second occasion that a driver blows in the “warn” range.)