02/24/2014 10:19 EST | Updated 04/26/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C. drinking and driving deaths down significantly

There has been a dramatic drop in the number of deaths caused by drinking and driving in B.C. since the introduction of stiffer penalties says the provincial government.

Government officials say since the laws were put in place in late 2010, 190 lives have been saved. Recent statistics show on average, there are 54 drinking and driving related deaths a year — down from 112 a year before the tougher rules were put in place.

The new rules include increased penalties for those who blow over the legal limit as well as those who blow in the warning range during a breathalyzer test.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the numbers show the government's new approach is working. 

"It was our goal when this program came in to reduce deaths by impaired drivers by 35 per cent. It has in fact reduced deaths by 52 per cent," she said.

2013 numbers question effectiveness

Lat year's numbers raise questions as to whether or not the new laws are still working.

The number of roadside warnings issued last year increased 15 per cent compared to 2012.

"The program is saving lives and it is saving more than ever so I think it is going the right direction," said Anton.

She said there is always more to learn from such programs.

The new legislation is still under question, facing court challenges that argue these new laws place too much arbitrary power in the hands of police officers.