Vancouver, British Columbia – A province-wide B.C. campaign by the province, police and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is aiming to reduce the problem of impaired driving this summer.

Although Counter Attack road checks, advertising, stricter penalties and rehabilitation programs have helped cut the number of deaths from drinking and driving by more than half in the past 30 years, it is still a serious concern that kills an average of 116 people each year.

ICBC has outlined the top five myths that some drivers still believe:

I can hold my booze. Of all impaired drivers in alcohol-related crashes, 81 per cent are male. Alcohol impairs vision, concentration and ability to react to unexpected hazards on the road.

I know that I’m sober enough to drive. Alcohol impairment actually starts with the first drink, and affects judgment, attention span, alertness, reaction time, and the ability to do more than one task at a time.

All I need is something to eat and I’ll be fine. A full stomach is not an effective defense against impaired driving, and no amount of coffee, cold showers or fresh air will sober you up. The only cure is time. It takes about six hours for the body to eliminate all the alcohol in your system when you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08, which is the legal limit.

I won’t get caught. Police have stepped up Counter Attack road checks across the province this summer, and drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs face penalties including 24-hour driving prohibitions and vehicle impoundments, 90-day administrative driving prohibitions, and criminal charges, fines and jail time. Drivers who have one or more driving-related criminal convictions, or two or more driving prohibitions on or after January 1, 2008, will pay a driver risk premium separate from insurance premiums. As well, all convicted drinking drivers who receive multiple driving prohibitions are required to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program and may have an alcohol interlock device installed in the vehicle.

I don’t drink and drive, but driving after a joint is fine. Numerous studies have shown that stoned drivers can be every bit as dangerous as drunk drivers. Drug impairment can include slowed reflexes, flawed depth perception, hallucinations and seizures. New legislation now allows police to test drivers for drug impairment, and to charge those who refuse to provide blood, saliva or urine samples.

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