The impact on alcohol-related collisions of the partial decriminalization of impaired driving in British Columbia, Canada

Scott Macdonald, Jinhui Zhao, Gina Martin, Jeff Brubacher, Tim Stockwell, Neil Arason, Susanne Steinmetz, Herbert Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction The purpose of this paper is to assess the impact of administrative sanctions introduced as part of a new law for drinking drivers in British Columbia, Canada. The new law, known as immediate roadside prohibitions (IRP), aimed to increase the efficiency of police and courts for processing drinking drivers, thereby increasing the certainty of their being apprehended and punished. However, in order to maintain these efficiencies, sanctions under this new law largely replaced laws under the Criminal Code of Canada for Driving While Impaired (DWI) by alcohol, which had more severe penalties but lower certainty of punishment. We examined whether the intervention was related to abrupt significant declines in three types of alcohol-related collisions (i.e. fatalities, injuries or property damage only) compared to the same type of collisions without alcohol involvement. Methods An interrupted time series design, with a non-equivalent control was used, testing for an intervention effect. Monthly rates of the three types of collisions with and without alcohol involvement were calculated for the 15-year period before and the 1-year period after implementation of the new law. ARIMA time series analysis was conducted controlling for trend effects, seasonality, autocorrelation, and collisions without alcohol. Results Significant average declines (p < 0.05) in alcohol-related collisions were found as follows: 40.4% for fatal collisions, 23.4% for injury collisions and 19.5% for property damage only collisions. No significant effects were found for any of the three comparable non-alcohol-related types of collisions. Conclusions These results suggest that provincial law of administrative sanctions for drinking drivers and associated publicity was more effective for minimizing alcohol-related collisions than laws under the Canadian Criminal Code.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-205
Number of pages6
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Alcohol-related collision
  • Immediate roadside prohibitions
  • Interrupted time series design


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