Government efforts to rewrite impaired driving laws called progressive
Published Wednesday, August 9, 2017 8:18PM ADT
Word that the federal government is considering lowering the legal alcohol limit is being met with optimism.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada says on average, four Canadians are killed every day by impaired drivers.
The federal government wants to crack down on that number by lowering the legal blood alcohol limit from .08 to .05.
“In countries where the (blood alcohol content) is already at .05, there are fewer road crashes, there are fewer deaths,” says Anissa Aldridge, MADD Canada’s Atlantic regional director.
In Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, drivers who are over .05 have their license suspended automatically for a week. New Brunswick changed its own laws to do the same earlier this year.
Gordon Stewart, the head of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, says his members felt the pinch in 2010 when the province's tougher laws were brought in.
“Business was lost. Every time there's legislation that will impact the food and beverage industry there's definitely a cost, and that cost is reducing the bottom line,” says Stewart.
But if this change goes ahead, the industry is not expecting much of an impact.
“A lower legal limit would be progressive,” says Halifax resident Cory Wensley.
“I think it's terrific. I think the limit should be zero,” says Halifax resident Rhonda Macaulay.
Knowing your limit is difficult for many people, according to those who enforce the current law. Halifax Regional Police Const. John McLeod says there's no way to know your blood alcohol concentration without taking a test.
“Depends on what they've had to eat, are they sick that day, how much sleep they've had, a whole lot of factors,” says Const. McLeod.
But there are some who say government could be taking other steps to make the roads safer.
“Distracted driving is a big issue, and then determining how to measure and how to react to and how to enforce impairment from cannabis use,” says personal injury lawyer John McKiggan.
The federal justice minister says the proposed changes would reform laws around alcohol and drug impairment.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.