What will it take to stop impaired driving?

1977 was the beginning of the Drinking Driving CounterAttack Program in British Columbia

1977 was an important year. It was the year Han Solo said, “May the Force be with you.” It was also the year Elvis passed away. Maybe even more importantly, 1977 was the beginning of the Drinking Driving CounterAttack Program in British Columbia – the very first of its kind in Canada.

Since its humble beginnings, we’ve seen significant reductions in impaired-related crashes. In fact, the program has been so successful most of us know instinctively that drinking and driving don’t mix. But did you know that there has been an increase in the number of drivers under the influence of drugs, such as prescription medication, while driving?

If your festivities involve alcohol, arrange for a designated driver or use other safe options to get home safely — call a taxi, take transit or call a sober friend. Another option is Operation Red Nose, a volunteer service in 13 host communities across B.C. that provides safe rides home for drivers and their passengers.

Did you know that if you crash while drinking and driving, you’re likely in breach of your insurance policy? That means that you could be 100 % responsible for the costs if you damage someone else’s property or injure them. That’s the word from our friends at ICBC who run the campaign (in partnership with police and the BC government) with great success. Their website has lots of great information, including this quiz:

True or False?

As long as I eat a big meal before drinking, I’ll be okay to drive.

False. It’s a good idea to eat while drinking alcoholic beverages. But a full stomach won’t stop you being impaired.

All I need is coffee, food or fresh air and I’ll be sober enough to drive home.

False. No amount of hot coffee, cold showers or fresh air will sober you up. The only cure is time.

Driving stoned isn’t as bad as driving drunk.

False. Studies show that “stoned” drivers can be as dangerous as drunk drivers. Depending on what you‘ve smoked, swallowed or injected, your impairment could range from slowed reflexes and flawed depth perception to hallucinations, psychosis and seizures. New legislation means police now can test for drug-impairment and charge drivers who refuse to provide blood, saliva or urine samples when requested.

The penalties in B.C. are the toughest in Canada.

True. B.C. has the toughest impaired laws in Canada. If you drive impaired, you can count on penalties adding up between $600 and $4,060 — even if it’s the first time you’re caught — and more time off the road.

So, this holiday season and all year long, please remember that it’s never cool to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

BC Ministry of Transportation