July 2009 – Too many people – especially young men – still drink and drive and make excuses for why it’s OK. But if you drive while impaired this summer, chances are you’ll get caught at a roadcheck, as part of a province-wide campaign by the Province, ICBC and police.
Although CounterAttack roadchecks, 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’s still a serious concern that kills an average of 116 people every year*.
Here are the top five myths about drinking and driving that some drivers still believe:
- I can hold my booze: Too many guys think drinking a six-pack of beer and then driving is OK, which is why 81 per cent of all impaired drivers in alcohol-related crashes are male*. So guys, if you think driving drunk will impress the ladies, think again. Remember those pick-up lines you thought sounded slick but actually acted as repellent? Alcohol not only impairs your ability to score a date, it impairs your vision, concentration and ability to react to unexpected hazards on the road.
- I know that I’m sober enough to drive: While you may be able to see and walk without staggering after drinking a few beers the reality is you can’t always tell when impairment kicks in — it actually starts with your first drink. Alcohol affects more than your vision and coordination. It affects your judgment, attention span, alertness, reaction time and ability to do more than one task at a time — vital things you need when you get behind the wheel.
- All I need is something to eat and I’ll be fine: While having a burger with your beer is a good idea, a full stomach is not an effective defence against impaired driving. And no amount of coffee, cold showers or fresh air will sober you up either. The only cure is time. In fact, it takes about six hours for your body to eliminate all the alcohol from your body when you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08, the legal limit.
- I won’t get caught: Police have stepped up CounterAttack roadchecks across the province this summer. Drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs face a range of penalties from 24-hour driving prohibitions and vehicle impoundments, 90-day administrative driving prohibitions to criminal charges, fines and jail time.
Plus, 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. On top of fines, 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 their vehicle to prevent them from starting or continuing to drive while impaired.
* 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. Depending on what you’ve smoked, swallowed or injected, drug impairment ranges from slowed reflexes, flawed depth perception to hallucinations and seizures. And if you’ve been mixing alcohol and drugs and are tired from partying all night, this combination can be even deadlier. New legislation now allows police to test drivers for drug impairment and charge those who refuse to provide blood, saliva or urine samples.
To learn more information and safe driving tips, visit www.icbc.com.