OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 11, 2012) - When it comes to provincial administrative licence suspension programs to deal with drivers at the .05% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, British Columbia leads the way with its combination of licence suspensions and vehicle impoundments. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Quebec, which does not have immediate roadside provisions of any kind for drivers in the BAC warn range level.
A new report from MADD Canada recommends: all provinces adopt vehicle impoundments as part of their administrative roadside licence suspension programs; and Quebec establish a program to deal with drivers at the .05% BAC level.
"On one hand, we have British Columbia, which has decreased its alcohol-related driving deaths by 40% since implementing tougher roadside provisions, including vehicle impoundments," said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. "On the other hand, we have Québec which has not implemented any sort of sanctions to deal with those drivers who, while under Criminal Code limit of .08% BAC, still represent a significant danger on the roads."
The report, "An Overview of Warn Range Administrative Licence Suspension Programs in Canada: 2010-2011" looks at the number of Criminal Code charges and provincial licence suspensions across Canada. It can be accessed on MADD Canada's web site at: http://madd.ca/media/docs/Suspension_Programs_in_Canada_MADD%20Canada.pdf.
In 2010, British Columbia increased its immediate roadside licence suspensions for drivers at the .05% BAC level, moving from 24 hours to 3 days for a first infraction. At the same time, the province also began impounding the vehicles of those drivers for the same duration. The sanctions mean a driver caught with a BAC of .05% or higher loses his or her licence and vehicle for three days for a first infraction. The duration increases with subsequent infractions to 7, 30 and 90 days. In the year following the introduction of those increased sanctions, alcohol-related crash deaths in British Columbia dropped 40% compared to the previous five year average, from 113 deaths to 68.
"The results in British Columbia tell us that the prospect of losing one's vehicle for a period of time is a huge factor in changing drinking and driving behaviours," Mr. Murie said. "We are strongly recommending all provinces add vehicle impoundments to their roadside licence suspension programs. It will reduce crashes and save lives."
All provinces except Quebec have some form of roadside licence suspension in place to address drivers with BACs of .05% and higher. None, however, have experienced the significant decrease that has been seen in British Columbia. (Alberta adopted a vehicle impoundment sanction in 2012, along with increased licence suspension periods at the .05% level. While it is too early to begin seeing results, MADD Canada anticipates that province will also see a significant decrease in alcohol-related crash deaths.)
In Quebec, the need for a program to address drivers at the .05% level is compounded by the fact that the province has the lowest conviction rate for Criminal Code impaired driving charges in the country.
"The concern about Quebec is two-fold," Mr. Murie said. "First, the province ignores those drivers at .05% and higher BAC level. Second, it does a poor job of prosecuting those it does charge under the Criminal Code. Its conviction rate for impaired driving charges is 46%, compared to 83% in Ontario."
MADD Canada encourages Quebec to review the .05% BAC administrative programs in place around the country, particularly that of British Columbia, so it can begin to better address the problem of impaired driving and improve safety on its roads.
About MADD Canada
MADD Canada (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is a national, charitable organization that is committed to stopping impaired driving and supporting the victims of this violent crime. With volunteer-driven groups in more than 100 communities across Canada, MADD Canada aims to offer support services to victims, heighten awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and save lives and prevent injuries on our roads. For more information, visit www.madd.ca.