Drive smart, not drunk, this holiday season: ICBC

CounterAttack roadchecks on now

December 2009 – The province, ICBC and police are reminding drivers to drive smart and find an alternative way home if they’ll be out drinking this holiday season.

Tonight, Solicitor General Kash Heed launched the annual CounterAttack campaign with ICBC and police at roadchecks near Canlan Ice Sports in Burnaby, one of the many sports facilities partnering with ICBC to curb drinking and driving.

“Every single year people are needlessly injured or killed because someone made a bad choice,” said Solicitor General Kash Heed. “Impaired driving is against the law and excuses from those who would put lives at risk will not be tolerated.”

On average, 3,000 people are injured and 116 people die in 5,100 alcohol-related crashes each year.*

At the launch event, Dr. Roy Purssell, an emergency physician at Vancouver General Hospital, addressed the serious consequences of mixing alcohol and driving. “Studies have shown that significant impairment occurs when you have a blood alcohol concentration of .02 (a quarter of the legal driving limit). And when a driver has a BAC between .10 and .14, he’s 48 times more likely to cause a fatal crash than a sober driver. Crash survivors may spend months in the hospital recovering from serious injuries or be left with a permanent disability.”

“Making a smart choice by choosing a designated driver, taking transit, calling a cab or Operation Red Nose or spending a night at a friend’s house are all easy alternatives to driving home drunk,” added Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC’s road safety director.

In addition to TV advertising, ICBC is partnering with businesses and sports facilities to raise awareness about drinking and driving. ICBC also supports Operation Red Nose (, a volunteer service in 17 communities across B.C. that provide safe rides home to all motorists who have been drinking or feel unfit to drive during the holiday season. On average, alcohol-related collisions cost ICBC and drivers more than $140 million in claims costs every year.**

During December, police across the province will be out in full force checking for drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. Impaired drivers stopped at roadchecks or elsewhere face a range of penalties from 24-hour prohibitions and vehicle impoundments, 90-day administrative driving prohibitions to criminal charges, fines and jail time. In addition, drivers who have one or more driving-related criminal convictions or two or more roadside suspensions as of January 1, 2008 or later will pay ICBC a Driver Risk Premium, in addition to their insurance premiums.

“It’s a myth that police are just trying to fill a quota � we’re out enforcing against impaired driving now and all year round because we’re committed to saving more lives from this preventable and tragic cause of death,” said RCMP Superintendent Norm Gaumont.

All convicted drinking drivers and those who receive multiple driving prohibitions are required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles, which prevents them from starting or continuing to drive if they’ve been drinking. Program evaluations have found up to a 90 per cent reduction in repeat drinking and driving when the device is installed. This is in addition to longer prohibitions and mandatory alcohol rehabilitation.

Drivers are reminded of these safety tips tips:

  • Remember that drinking and driving starts with your first drink. Alcohol affects your judgment, reaction time, coordination and visual function; your ability to steer, track moving objects and brake; and your ability to control your speed and lane position.
  • Make a smart choice: choose a designated driver before going out, keep money aside for a bus or taxi, call a friend or stay overnight.
  • Don’t get in a car with a driver who has been drinking alcohol. Ask to get out of the car if necessary.
  • If you see an impaired driver, report it to your local police detachment � call 911.
  • Talk about the issue often with your family and friends.
  • No amount of coffee, cold showers or fresh air will make you sober. The only cure is time. It takes about six hours for your body to eliminate all the alcohol if you have a blood alcohol concentration reading of .08 (the legal limit).

Visit for more information and tips. For more information about the ignition interlock program or the Responsible Driver Program, visit the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles website at

*Annual averages from 2004-2008 police-reported data. The fatality count is an annual average from 2003-2007 police data since 2008 counts aren’t available for release yet.

About ICBC

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is a provincial Crown corporation established in 1973 to provide universal auto insurance to B.C. motorists.