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Stay sober behind the wheel during the holidays

Driving under the influence poses a serious threat to yourself and others, and it’s essential to keep a clear head and stay responsible.

By Blair Qualey

‘Tis the season to be merry, but it’s also the time to be extra cautious on the roads. As the holidays kick into full swing, it’s crucial to prioritize safety, especially for those behind the wheel.

Driving under the influence poses a serious threat to yourself and others, and it’s essential to keep a clear head and stay responsible. Just days ago, B.C. Highway Patrol reported 222 drivers were found to be impaired during a province-wide campaign during a Saturday, underlining the fact that not everyone is getting the message.

The holiday season in our beautiful province adds every kind of weather imaginable to our already tricky driving conditions. Rain, sleet, snow and fog can turn a relatively simple trip into something that requires complete attention and focus from the driver.

Adding alcohol, cannabis or other medications to the equation magnifies the risk and unlike the weather, is completely avoidable. While we’ve previously discussed winter driving tips for new drivers, one aspect demands special attention during the holiday season – staying sober behind the wheel.

Just as you prepare your vehicle for winter conditions, it’s equally important to prepare yourself. Consuming alcohol or cannabis, even in small amounts, can significantly impair your ability to drive safely. Luckily, there are a bevy of options available to avoid these situations, where you can still enjoy the festivities.

Planning ahead is the most obvious first step. If you know you’re going to be having a few rum and eggnogs, ensuring you have a strategy in place beforehand takes a lot of the stress and risk out of the situation. Whether it’s appointing a designated driver, using public transportation, or simply calling an Uber or a taxi, there are plenty of alternatives to getting behind the wheel while impaired.

Stores are also filled with “mocktails” and non-alcoholic alternatives, so you don’t have to rely on just drinking water all night in place of a tasty beverage. If you can’t rely on the above, consider staying the night, where possible, or even hosting the event yourself!

While nobody wants to pay a fine or get points knocked off their licence, staying sober behind the wheel is not just about avoiding legal repercussions; it’s about safeguarding lives.

The holidays should be a time of joy and celebration, not forever scarred by easily preventable tragedies. Your responsibility as a driver extends beyond your own safety; it encompasses the well-being of everyone sharing the road with you — or your vehicle.

But how much is too much? When in doubt, check the B.C. government website. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content equal to or greater than 80 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood.

With cannabis, it gets a bit more complicated, as there are three offences for driving while impaired by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, the easiest way to make sure you’re “under the limit” is to just avoid consuming any alcohol, cannabis or other intoxicants. Even small amounts can alter your perception and motor skills, and it’s just not worth the risk.

As the festive season unfolds, let’s raise a toast to responsible celebrations. The holiday spirit is best enjoyed when everyone arrives safely at their destinations. By staying sober behind the wheel, you contribute to a safer and happier British Columbia.

We’ve also got big news for 2024, as we’re thrilled to announce the long-awaited return of the Vancouver International Auto Show, March 20 to 24! For more on the show, including ticket information, please head to:

Blair Qualey, President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC, wishes you a joyous and safe holiday season. If you have any questions or thoughts to share, feel free to email him at