June 16, 2003

BCAA supports proposed impaired driving law changes

Burnaby, B.C. – The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) says it supports the B.C. provincial government’s proposed changes to impaired driving laws, and is especially pleased that a stronger emphasis is being placed on education and rehabilitation.

“BCAA has long been of the view that an effective campaign against drinking and driving requires three key elements – visible enforcement, swift and certain penalties, and mandatory rehabilitation for repeat offenders,” says Bills Bullis, BCAA President & CEO. “With evidence showing there continues to be little improvement among chronic drunk drivers, BCAA is
pleased to see that the government is taking action to address that issue, and to see that our efforts in advocating for mandatory rehabilitation have finally been rewarded.”

Another of the proposals that is strongly supported by BCAA is the implementation of a user-pay alcohol ignition interlock program. Similar programs are in place in six other provinces and territories.

“Ignition interlocks have proven effective in other jurisdictions, and we welcome their introduction in B.C.,” adds Bullis. “It’s important to note, however, that in order for ignition interlocks to have a lasting positive effect on driver habits, they need to be part of a comprehensive program that also includes education and rehabilitation.”

One weakness that BCAA sees in the government’s proposals is no apparent increase in resources for enforcement, such as CounterAttack road blocks.

“BCAA believes that visible enforcement is one of the most effective deterrents against drinking and driving. If people who’ve been drinking know there’s a good chance they’ll run into a road block, they’ll think twice before ever getting behind the wheel,” adds Bullis. “We were disappointed, therefore, that the government is not proposing to provide law enforcement
agencies with the ability to have a stronger presence in combating impaired driving.”

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