There is much ink being spilled in Alberta as news of the provincial government’s desire to change our drinking driving laws reaches critical mass.
Currently the legal limit for blood alcohol is .08 percent. In BC, the limit has been lowered to .05 and instant penalties of driving bans kick in as soon as you blow over.
The lowering of the limit in BC has had a negative effect on the hospitality industry. (In B.C., members lost an average of 21 per cent in liquor sales following the first six months of similar penalties being introduced). Patrons are wary of walking the limit and the stiff and instant consequences. So the number of people having dinner with water over wine is increasing. And that’s hitting the businesses where the margins are greatest – booze.
Warning range 0.05-0.08 (1-4 drinks): 3-day ban + $200 fine… additional fees make total $600
Greater than 0.08 (2-5 drinks): 90-day ban + 30-day car impound + $500 fine + possible criminal charge… additional fees of towing, interlock ignition device, responsible driver program, etc make total up to $4,060
Already operators in Alberta are rallying against the proposed changes, fully aware their business will take a hit too.
I’m in favour of the .05 limit for a simple reason: it will make the line easier to see.
1 drink will become 1 too many. No longer will you be able to think 1 or 2 is cool to get behind the wheel. Have 1 and the keys are gone, you’re done, that limit is just too low and the penalties too severe to try fool the breathalyzer.
Will businesses hurt with the changes? Yes.
Will people’s lives be saved? Since the law came in BC, alcohol related fatalities dropped by 45. That’s 45 people alive today because of .05.
As a friend said, it’s a hard law to argue against, because it sounds like you’re in favour of boozing at a party and plowing through a busstop full of pedestrians.
Fact is, the lower limit makes the line more defined. People will be forced to plan ahead. Designated drivers will take more responsibility. Partying will still happen, and fewer accidents will happen. 45 people are alive today to tell the story because of it.
We can debate the merits of the penalties and the jurisdiction of police to pass instant roadside penalties, I’m fine with legislators having that discussion. But the limit needs to be lowered.