By Bev Schellenberg
What does a province do when a law acts as an effective deterrent? They consider changing it, apparently. At least, that’s what the still wet-behind-the-ears Solicitor General Rich Coleman is thinking of doing with B.C.’s strict new impaired driving laws.
Since September, B.C. has been abuzz with news of tougher drinking and driving laws, even though said laws have simply been brought into line with those of several other countries, including Australia, France, and Spain. A three-day driving ban and $200 fine can be imposed upon individuals caught at .05 to .08. Those in excess of .08 are looking at 90 days off the road, loss of vehicle for 30 days, and a $500 fine. The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General website now claims that “B.C. has the toughest provincial impaired driving legislation in the country.”
The new laws have apparently been a successful deterrent. Although the effects have yet to be statistically proven, bars and restaurants say they’ve experienced a 30 percent drop in business. Patrons, they report, are afraid to drink and drive.
That should be cause for celebration, shouldn’t it? The law may actually be effective. But somehow the fact that businesses may be suffering is a deal-breaker. “We’ll see, going into the spring, if there are certain things we may have to do to mitigate some of the public’s concerns,” Coleman said as he announced a review.
Take a breath. Analyze the stats in the coming months for impaired driving, and then determine where to go from there. Don’t panic because of potential loss of sales. If the point of the new laws is to reduce the impact of drinking and driving in B.C. — over 100 deaths per year year and more than 3000 injuries — then it would behoove the province to accurately determine if they have worked before changing them.
Have a drink. Wait. See.