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In Tevendale We Trust

by Archives January 8, 2008

Should the legal limit for drinking and driving be reduced to 0.05 in Canada? A substantial segment of the population thinks so, and so does MADD Canada. I think it’s an ill-conceived policy that will do more harm than good.
Lowering the legal limit and making a blood alcohol content of .05 or over a criminal offense could create “criminals” out of responsible drinkers. Under this new BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) limit, you could go out for supper, have a bottle of wine with your girlfriend, and be at risk of being over .05, depending on how long your dinner lasted.
This would do nothing to reduce the amount of drinking related fatalities.
Why?
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation is a national, independent road safety institute, and was established in 1964. In a 2005 survey conducted by the TIRF, 84 per cent of impaired driving trips were done by three per cent of drivers. It’s the alcoholics and other hard core users that drivers have to worry about.
According to the Canada Safety Council, “relatively few chronic hard core drinking drivers are responsible for most of the drunk driving problems in this country. High-BAC drivers (i.e. those with BACs over 0.15) represent about one per cent of the cars on the road at night and on weekends. Yet they account for nearly half of all drivers killed at those times. The hard-core drinking driver is the biggest challenge.” The CSC has also noted the lack of evidence supporting that charging low-BAC drivers criminally would help to reduce the number of deaths and injuries as a result of alcohol consumption.
So instead of trying to deal with the small segment of the population that represents the biggest part of the problem, the Canadian government is supposed to unleash this all-encompassing new BAC law that makes me a criminal if I want to have three beers at supper.
How about instead of coming up with new ways to deal with the problem, we just improve on existing tactics. Suspend the licenses of first time offenders for five years. Make repeat offenders serve more than a minimum of 14 days in jail, and have their right to drive revoked. I’d bet a month’s pay that you would see a sharp decrease in DUI’s in drivers if they’re faced with having to take the bus for the rest of their lives.
Another interesting fact about drinking and driving in Canada is that it is on the decline. From 1995 to 2003, the number of alcohol related fatalities dropped from 1,296 to just over 900, down a third. The number of alcohol-related deaths dropped below 1,000 people in 1998, the first time since record keeping began. Combined with the addition of countless amounts of new drivers, this reduction in drinking related deaths should be seen as a milestone.
There is no need to lower the legal limit, all we need to do to keep reducing the amount of drunk drivers is to improve on existing laws, such as the implementation of in-car breathalyzers and harsher license suspensions, and the public will continue to see a decline in drinking related accidents. Don’t punish the responsible, incarcerate the guilty.

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