Top ten excuses for drinking & driving: ICBC

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Dec. 29, 2009 – VANCOUVER – The 2008 CounterAttack Drinking and Driving Campaign – a partnership between the provincial government, police and ICBC – was out in full force this past December with hundreds of roadchecks throughout British Columbia.

The police officers responsible for CounterAttack’s roadchecks hear all kinds of excuses each year about why people think it’s safe for them to drink and drive. Here are the top ten:

  1. “I can handle my liquor” – According to police, this one typically applies to the “macho” variety of men who feel their exaggerated sense of manliness enables them to overcome the effects of alcohol. Trouble is, there’s no physiological evidence to support that claim – alcohol is a drug, and if you drink it, your mind and body will immediately feel the effects. Drink too much, and you will be impaired – no matter how big, tough or macho you think you are.
  2. “I don’t want to pay for a taxi” – Depending on the distance travelled, you could indeed face a significant cost to get home in a taxi. But compared to the cost of losing your licence, injuring or killing someone, it’s a small amount to pay for a safe ride home. Other options if your celebrations involve alcohol: share a cab, take transit, walk or assign a designated driver. Whatever the option you take, you need to plan ahead. Ask a friend, co-worker or your partner to stay sober, or make arrangements beforehand to have someone come get you after the party ends. Alternatively, stay at a hotel or friend’s house where the celebration is taking place.
  3. “Leaving my car overnight is a hassle” – Going back to the bar or party location the next day to retrieve your vehicle can indeed be a burden but having your car impounded at a police roadcheck is an even bigger hassle. If you’re concerned about leaving your vehicle behind, call Operation Red Nose – a volunteer-driven service to get you and your car home safely. Visit www.rednose.bc.ca for more information.
  4. “I always make it home after a few” – Each year in British Columbia, approximately 120 people don’t make it home due to alcohol-related collisions. The drivers who survive those collisions often tell police afterwards that they had very little to drink and really didn’t think they were impaired, despite the fact their blood-alcohol levels were well over the legal limit. Impairment begins with the first drink. And the risk of crashing and killing yourself and others increases with each alcoholic drink consumed.
  5. “It’s only a short drive home” – If that’s the case, your taxi fare will be minimal. Remember: CounterAttack roadchecks are often set-up outside drinking establishments – so no matter how close to home you may be, you might still encounter a friendly, neighbourhood roadcheck.
  6. “I’m OK to drive” – Are you really? Alcohol affects your judgment. How many people over the course of human history have learned that the hard way? And how many lives have been lost or permanently damaged through the bad judgment of drunk drivers? It’s simple – if you drink, don’t drive.
  7. “One more drink won’t hurt” – Wrong. Every drink you consume adds to your level of impairment. The “just one more” mentality can often lead to many more, as people get caught up in the spirit of celebration.
  8. “They only take your licence if you’re drunk” – Imagine for a moment that every person at a sold-out Canucks game has their licence suspended and their car impounded. Then imagine that same arena filled to capacity for another game – and once again, every person in the building has their licence suspended and their car impounded. That’s the approximate number (more than 38,000) of drivers each year in British Columbia who are caught by police when their ability to drive is affected by alcohol or drugs. Like the sign says at GM Place: “If you drink, don’t drive.”
  9. “I’m more careful after a couple” – That’s like saying you’re more intelligent after sniffing glue. It makes no sense. Alcohol affects your reaction time, decision-making, coordination and visual functions; your ability to steer, track moving objects and brake appropriately; and your ability to control your speed and lane position. The more you drink, the worse you drive.
  10. “I wasn’t drinking/only smoked a joint” – Another urban myth that has no bearing in reality. Numerous studies have shown that “stoned” drivers who have taken drugs other than alcohol including cannabis, cocaine and even prescription drugs can be every bit as dangerous as drunk drivers. And new legislation now allows police to test drivers they suspect may be drug-impaired; if convicted, they face the same penalties as alcohol-impaired drivers.

drivers can face a range of penalties, including immediate 24-hour roadside suspensions and vehicle impoundment, 90-day driving prohibitions, fines, mandatory rehabilitation, ignition interlock, criminal charges and jail time. With the introduction of ICBC’s Driver Risk Premium, drivers who have one or more impaired driving convictions and/or two or more roadside suspensions will pay more.

So don’t make any excuses this New Year’s Eve. Remember that impairment starts with the first drink, so plan ahead for a safe ride home.