B.C. says tough drunk driving law saves 190 lives, cut death rate in half

VICTORIA - British Columbia's Liberal government believes 190 lives have been saved since controversial new impaired driving rules were introduced three years ago.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton says drinking and driving deaths have declined 52 per cent since September 2010, when police officers were given powers to issue immediate roadside suspensions for suspected impaired drivers.

Anton says that since the law was introduced, impaired driving deaths have decreased to an average of 54 a year from a five-year average of 112 deaths.

She acknowledges the law is facing a constitutional challenge, but Anton says the government has no plans to make changes to the overall thrust of the legislation, introduced to honour four-year-old Alexa Middelaer, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2008.

Under the rules, drivers who fail or refuse a roadside screening test can be fined, have their licence suspended, or their vehicle seized.

Part of the law was struck down as a violation of constitutional rights in November 2011, when a B.C. Supreme Court justice ruled that penalties for drivers were too serious not to have an adequate appeal system.


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