MADD Canada

MADD Canada

November 30, 2011 13:00 ET

MADD Canada Dispels the Myths About .05% Sanctions

Criticisms, petitions against Alberta's proposed impaired driving law based on misinformation and misperceptions rather than fact and experience, says MADD Canada.

OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2011) - Alberta's newly proposed impaired driving sanctions do not target social drinkers, nor will they devastate the hospitality industry, says MADD Canada.

"There is a great deal of misinformation circulating about the proposed laws and what they will and won't do," said Andrew Murie, Chief Executive Officer of MADD Canada. "We urge everyone to go beyond the scare tactics and myths being perpetuated by opponents of this law and consider what the research and experiences in other jurisdictions have told us about .05% sanctions."

MYTH: These sanctions unfairly target social drinkers.
FACT: These sanctions do not impact what most Canadians consider to be social drinking. While the safest option is to always separate drinking from driving entirely, a beer or two after work or a glass of wine or two with dinner will not put the average person over the .05% BAC mark. Estimates of BACs in relation to time, weight and standard Canadians drinks indicate a 185 lb. man can have three standard drinks over a two-hour period and not go over the .05% BAC limit. Similarly, a 130 lb. woman can have two standard drinks over a two-hour period and not go over that limit.
MYTH: These sanctions target safe drivers while ignoring those at the highest BAC levels.
FACT: First of all, impairment begins at even low BAC levels and to suggest that drivers between .05% and .08% are not a risk for impaired crashes is simply untrue. Generally, 20% of fatal alcohol-related crashes are caused by drivers under the .08% level. That represents approximately 300 deaths in Alberta since 1998. Second, lower BAC laws and sanctions reduce impaired driving among drivers at all BAC levels. In fact, research shows that the biggest impact is often seen among those drivers with the highest BACs. For example, when the Australian Capital Territory lowered its BAC limit from .08% to .05%, the crash involvement of drivers with BACs of .15% to .19% and drivers with BACs of .20% and above fell by 31% and 46%, respectively.
MYTH: .05% sanctions will decimate the hospitality industry.
FACT: The same argument has been made in every jurisdiction where .05% sanctions have been introduced or strengthened. Yet, these claims of catastrophic losses never seem to be substantiated. Certainly there may be an adjustment period as people learn about the enhanced sanctions and what they mean, but .05% sanctions are in place in nearly every jurisdiction across Canada. The enhanced .05% sanctions in other provinces have not triggered precipitous declines in the hospitality industry. Indeed, the hospitality and alcohol industries are alive and well in the European Union, New Zealand, Australia, and other comparable democracies that have far more comprehensive, intrusive and punitive impaired driving laws than Canada. Furthermore, if the cost impact of the proposed law is being considered, let's not forget the fact that impaired driving and alcohol-related trauma and illness cost Canadians billions of dollars annually.

"We hear these same arguments whenever a province introduces strong .05% sanctions," Mr. Murie said. "They are inaccurate and it's time to set them aside, focus on the facts, and focus on the safety improvements these sanctions will have in Alberta."

The most important fact about .05% laws is getting lost in the debate, Mr. Murie said. "These laws work. They save lives. Look at the experience in British Columbia; that province saw alcohol-related road crash deaths decrease by 40% - that's 45 fewer deaths - in the year following the introduction of stronger .05% BAC sanctions."

For more information, please see: The ABCs of BACs and The BACs of Dead, Alcohol-Positive Drivers in Canada from 1987 to 2008: What Do the Numbers Tell Us. Both documents are available in the MADD Canada Resource Library at www.madd.ca.

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