VICTORIA - The number of drunk-driving deaths in B.C. has dropped by half since the province introduced tougher laws last year.

The provincial government announced Monday that in the first seven months of the new legislation -- the toughest impaired-driving law in Canada -- the province recorded 30 impaired-related driving deaths.

The average for the same period over the previous five years was 61.

The new rules came into effect in September 2010, giving police the ability to impound cars and hand out hefty fines to individuals whose blood-alcohol level was higher than .05 -- lower than the .08 legal limit under the Criminal Code.

Bars and restaurants initially complained that the strict rules had dried up their business, because members of the public were too afraid to have a single drink on a night out.

But Ian Tostenson of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association says these are sobering statistics, and he now supports the law.