The British Columbia Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program has been a hot topic since it was first brought in back in 2010, and after changes and challenges, the debate over whether it’s too harsh or effective is still going strong.
The law, requiring anyone who registers in the warn range of .05 and .08 on a breathalyzer to lose their drivers license for 3 days and possibly have their vehicle impounded, has seen challenges taken all the way to the Supreme Court by people who have received roadside suspensions. Now, after a report released by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) under the Freedom of Information Act, the public can see that the people enforcing the penalties are questioning its effectiveness too.
The draft report was drawn up for ICBC and was a strictly considered internal until a Victoria lawyer obtained it. Long story short, the document indicates that ICBC is questioning whether the IRP program and British Columbia’s strict impaired driving laws are actually saving the lives as the province is claiming it is.
The Province of British Columbia and the BC Attorney General say that the new laws are extremely effective, with a reduction of 36 alcohol-related fatalities since they were brought in. The lawyer who obtained the ICBC document has stated that, after reading the draft, ICBC feels otherwise.
His interpretation of the draft is that ICBC doesn’t think impaired driving laws can be proven to be the real reason alcohol-related deaths are decreasing. In the report ICBC discussed that there is no baseline of data to determine whether or not the claims are accurate, the police didn’t add any contributing data to the information they provided so it’s not known if external factors are at play, and there’s no control data to determine the amount of change in impaired driving deaths.
The general conclusion of the report is that the Province of British Columbia could be misleading when it makes statements about how effective impaired driving rates are. Because this was a report that was confidential and meant only for internal use at ICBC, no one outside the organization was ever supposed to know the corporation had doubts about the British Columbia Immediate Roadside Prohibition program. Now that it’s all over the media, the public can make their own interpretation.