EDITORIAL: New laws promise to make roads safer

Police kick off CounterAttack campaign across Capital Region

The lights twinkle from the homes and shops as you drive by, sidewalks are abuzz with the hustle and bustle of people in a hurry to keep up with the frantic pace of the season. And that’s all the more reason to take a moment to pause before you get behind the wheel – or if you’ve indulged in a bit of the holiday cheer, forgo getting behind the wheel at all.

Police have kicked off the CounterAttack campaign for the holiday season, bringing road checks to highways and byways across the Capital Region. And this year police will have one more weapon in their arsenal.

New laws which take effect Dec. 18 allow police to conduct a breath test on any driver who has been stopped at a road check without requiring a suspicion that the person had been drinking.

READ: Compulsory breath tests take effect

“This is one of the most significant changes to the laws related to impaired driving in more than 40 years and is another way that we are modernizing the criminal justice system,” said federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The new rules are aimed at stopping drivers who deny consuming alcohol, which could potentially prevent police from forming the reasonable suspicion to require the driver to take an alcohol screening test. Minimum fines and maximum penalties have also been increased under the new laws.

Impaired driving remains a leading cause of fatal car crashes, with an average of 68 lives lost every year in B.C.

In 2017, there were more than 69,000 impaired driving incidents reported by the police, including almost 3,500 drug-impaired driving incidents.

READ: Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

So now there’s even less reason to get behind the wheel after indulging in the Christmas spirits. Call a friend, hop on a bus, take a taxi – just don’t take a chance that could destroy the Christmas of so many, including your own.

The flashing lights are a beautiful sight at this time of year, unless you’re looking at them in the rear-view mirror.

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