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Grant M. Scheiner - Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

Canadian Province Moves to 0.05 BAC Limit for Drivers

Since practically the time automobiles because commonplace, our government has enacted legislation of one form or another to protect us from intoxicated drivers. Amazingly, the first government sponsored study recommended that drivers with a BAC above 0.15 could be presumed to be intoxicated while those below could not. Over the decades, criminal defense lawyers know the legal limit has steadily been decreasing due to pressure from politicians and politically influential organization like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Today it is 0.08 in every state.

When will it stop? When it is completely illegal to drink and drive? When it is completely illegal to drink at all? At least one Canadian province has taken the step of enacting penalties for drivers with a BAC of 0.05 or higher. Is this a sign of things to come in the United States? An excerpt from the article below – originally published as an editorial in the Edmonton Journal – raises some interesting points:

Alberta’s new drinking-and-driving legislation will follow the tire tracks of B.C. into a decidedly grey area. In so doing, it may create opposition to an initiative that will achieve its public-safety goal, but still invite criticism for targeting drivers who are not legally impaired according to the Criminal Code of Canada.

Drinking and driving is a crime that kills too many people, both bystanders and the drunks themselves, and there ought to be universal rejection of the practice. Our premier and her government should be dedicated to the eradication of this scourge. And they were in fact wise to consult with their B.C. counterparts, whose iron-fisted and open-handed legislation is being credited with a significant reduction in deaths caused by drunk driving since its enactment in September 2010. But the Redford government has to see the B.C. legislation for its unduly harsh nature – and its cash-cow element as well.

In B.C., a driver whose blood-alcohol content is measured between .05 and .08 – which is legal under the Criminal Code – can be hit with an immediate three-day licence suspension and have to pay a fine of $200, as well as a $250 fee for licence reinstatement and might also have to pay for towing and storage if his or her vehicle is seized. Being caught in this grey area a second or third time in a five-year period results in heftier financial penalties, lengthier suspensions and longer vehicle seizures.

But a 125-pound woman needs to drink only two fiveounce glasses of wine over a one-hour period to register .06, according to a Canadian Automobile Association calculator. When Redford said she wanted new legislation to change the culture around impaired driving, surely she meant to target those who drink themselves past .08, rather than the husband and wife who share a bottle of wine on an evening out for dinner.