February 08, 2013 11:30 ET
OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 8, 2013) - Criticism of B.C.'s impaired driving law continues but the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program has been highly effective in reducing impaired driving and alcohol-related crash deaths throughout the province, says MADD Canada.
"Canada's progress in reducing impaired driving has been stalled since the late 90s'. Governments needed to re-think how they approach the problem and how we could begin to drive those impaired driving rates down again," said MADD Canada Chief Executive Officer Andrew Murie. "B.C.'s legislation has done that very well. Frankly, the results being seen with B.C.'s IRP, in terms of the significant reduction in impaired driving deaths, have not been seen with similar programs anywhere in the world."
Mr. Murie made the statement in response to disappointing comments from former B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen, who recently criticized the IRP penalties for being too severe.
"Citizens have the right to be protected from the crime of impaired driving," Mr. Murie said. "The IRP was designed to provide strong and effective sanctions against those would who make the choice to drive while impaired - and make no mistake, it is a choice. The program is working. B.C.'s roads are safer from impaired driving and an estimated 104 lives have been saved since the laws were implemented."
Since the IRP was introduced in 2010, impaired driving deaths have been reduced by 46% compared to the average in each of the previous five years.
The program has not been without its challenges. The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled in 2011 that the initial appeals process for the 90-day immediate roadside suspension was inadequate. The legislation was subsequently adapted and that portion of the law is back in operation. Another challenge questioned the constitutionality of the province's roadside suspensions in the warn range (.05% BAC and higher). The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that portion of the law was constitutional and the law was upheld.
"Most new laws face challenges once they are implemented and they may need to be adapted. The Government of B.C. adapted the appeals process accordingly to address the concerns raised," Mr. Murie said.
MADD CanadaAndrew MurieChief Executive Officer416email@example.com
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