An Ontario initiative targeting bars and pubs that give drunk drivers their last drink of the night is one way authorities can improve public safety as B.C. mulls increasing access to booze by changing its “antiquated” liquor laws, experts say.

Under the provincewide Last Drink Program, people charged with impaired driving are asked where they drank that night, which allows police to compile and analyze a database of licensed establishments, according to Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of B.C.

Those bars and nightclubs that show up frequently as places where drunk drivers get their last drink then face greater scrutiny from liquor inspectors, Stockwell said. After a warning, if the same establishment is caught overserving a drunk driver again within two years, an inspector comes to help train servers. A third offence within two years of the second violation launches a full investigation, including surveillance and, if warranted, fines or suspension.

See Ontario initiative here

Stockwell helped institute a similar program in Western Australia in the early ’90s that found the establishments that often overserved drunk drivers “were the same places that had lots of violent incidents as well.”

“Obviously the busier (and) the bigger places are going to generate more people of all kinds, probably more responsible drinkers as well as irresponsible drinkers — but they tend to be hot spots,” Stockwell said.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada submitted Durham Region’s Last Drink Program as a model for B.C. to adopt during the province’s call for liquor review suggestions from stakeholders.

“About 20 per cent of alcohol is consumed in licensed establishments, the vast majority of alcohol is consumed in people’s private homes,” MADD CEO Andrew Murie said. “When they looked at their impaired driving charges, two things came out of it: almost 70 per cent of the people in the trial … were coming from licensed establishments, and four licensed establishments were responsible for about 70 per cent of the arrests.

“It targeted the licensed community: who were the good operators and who were the people that you really needed to have some major conversations with.”

The Ontario model would allow B.C.’s liquor inspectors to focus on the small number of chronic overserving bars — out of more than 10,000 licensed establishments — because “visiting every establishment is a waste of their time,” Murie said.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch fined or suspended just 39 licensees last year and 35 the year before for overservice, according to branch spokeswoman Cindy Stephenson.

Those licenses are managed by the province’s 36 liquor inspectors — including 10 in the Lower Mainland.

Meanwhile, partiers in Calgary who hail a taxi and then puke inside the vehicle will face a $100 fine starting next year after that city’s taxi advisory committee approved the bylaw last Friday.

Source: The Vancouver Sun


Last updated on: 2014-01-01 | Link to this post