CounterAttack hits the road for summer in B.C.

VANCOUVER, June 28 /CNW/ - The Province, police and ICBC kicked off this summer's CounterAttack campaign with a reminder: if you drink and drive, prepare to get caught.

"We want all B.C. drivers to have a safe summer and a good way to do that is to keep drinking drivers off the road," said Solicitor General Michael de Jong. "The tragic reality is that people who drink and drive put themselves - and everyone else, at risk of injury or death."

De Jong noted that this fall, the government will bring in the toughest impaired driving laws in Canada to help reduce alcohol-impaired driving fatalities by 35 per cent by the end of 2013. The new laws are designed to make B.C.'s roads safer by providing police with more immediate enforcement tools and curbing repeat offenders.

"Police throughout B.C. welcome these tougher laws," said Jamie Graham, Chair of the B.C. Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. "These new legal tools increase our ability to get impaired drivers off the road faster, deter repeat offending and help save lives."

Under changes to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), drivers who provide a failing breath sample above 0.08 per cent BAC or refuse to provide a breath sample at the roadside will face an immediate, 90-day driving ban and a $500 fine. As well, they will have their vehicle impounded for 30 days. They may also face criminal charges.

Drivers caught once in the "warn" range (between 0.05 and 0.08 per cent BAC) in a five-year period will face an immediate, three-day driving ban and a $200 fine; a second time, a seven-day ban and a $300 fine; and a third, a 30-day ban and a $400 fine. Research shows that driving with a BAC in that range means a driver is seven times more likely to be in a fatal crash than if they have no alcohol in their body.

In addition, drivers who blow once in the "fail" range, or three times within five years in the "warn" range, will be required to participate in the rehabilitative Responsible Driver Program. They must also use an ignition interlock device, which tests a driver's breath for alcohol every time they operate their vehicle, for one year.

Drinking and driving remains the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. This summer, police will be checking for impaired drivers with extra deployments throughout B.C.

Each year, ICBC supports enhanced police enforcement to curtail impaired driving through CounterAttack awareness campaigns during the summer long weekends starting in July, and again in December.

"It doesn't take much alcohol to impair your ability to drive," said ER physician and ICBC RoadSense speaker Dr. Bruce Campana. "There are no quick fixes to make yourself sober. The way our bodies absorb and eliminate alcohol varies by individual and depends on many factors."

On average, there are approximately 5,000 alcohol-related crashes each year in B.C. that cause 3,000 injuries and 115 deaths.

ICBC and its road safety partners invest in combined enforcement and public awareness activities, including CounterAttack, as an effective way to change driver behaviour, save lives and prevent injuries.

For more information about the B.C.'s new impaired driving laws, visit the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicle website at www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/osmv. For safety tips, visit www.icbc.com.

To watch this year's CounterAttack TV ad, please visit ICBC's YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPPKFOdn_HY).

Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/icbc.

SOURCE ICBC

For further information: For further information: Kate Pasieka, 604-240-7404; Joanne Bergman, 604-314-3138

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