MADD Canada

MADD Canada

October 31, 2006 12:09 ET

MP's Bill will establish new impaired driving law at 0.05% BAC level

MP Ron Cannan has support of MADD Canada in his efforts to reduce risk of death and injury on Canadian roads

Attention: News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 31, 2006) - A Private Members Bill to set a new 0.05% BAC legal limit for drinking and driving was introduced today by Kelowna British Columbia MP Ron Cannan. MADD Canada supports the MP's initiative because it will 'significantly reduce the numbers of Canadians being killed and injured in impaired driving crashes.'

Mr. Cannan's Bill would introduce a new 0.05% BAC offence to complement the existing Criminal Code impaired driving offences. The new measures would differ from the current 0.08% BAC offence in three significant ways. First, the 0.05% BAC offence streamlines procedures and contains ticketing provisions. Second, the proposed offence contains lower penalties than those for the 0.08% BAC. Third, the proposed offence also contains special criminal record provisions.

Robert Solomon, MADD Canada's Legal Director and a professor in the Law Faculty at the University of Western Ontario, states the Bill will help keep impaired drivers off the roads. "We are supportive of Mr. Cannan's legislation because research from around the world indicates such measures will save lives on Canada's roads. His Bill will effectively reduce the amount a person can currently drink and then legally drive."

Professor Solomon is quick to add, "This legislation will not interfere with 'social drinking.' It won't stop people from having a drink or two after work or with a meal. It simply provides police with a further option for getting that person who has had too much to drink off the road and out of harm's way."

The MADD Canada Legal Director explains: "The proposed .05% BAC offence is designed to deter impaired driving without being unduly punitive, or creating greater burdens on the police and the courts. The ticket option of pleading guilty without having to go to court may discourage accused persons from needlessly challenging the charges."

"This is a very reasonable approach to making our roads safer from impaired driving crashes," says Professor Solomon. "A 0.05% BAC level is the appropriate legal limit when considering the risk impaired drivers pose to all motorists who must share the roads with them."

In a November 2005 SES public opinion survey, 73 % of Canadians believe the current legal drinking limits should be reduced. In that survey, when the proposed lower drinking limit was explained, 84% of Canadians felt this level was 'about right' or should be even lower.

In the last Parliament, Senator Marjory LeBreton tabled a similar piece of legislation that would have introduced new impaired driving Criminal Code measures at the legal limit of 0.05% BAC.

For a detailed discussion of the case for a 0.05% Criminal Code offence, MADD Canada has posted on its website a recent submission to Criminal Law Quarterly.

THE ELEMENTS OF A WORKABLE 0.05% BAC CRIMINAL CODE OFFENCE

The proposed 0.05% BAC law is designed to maximize the deterrent impact of the law, minimize the administrative burden on the criminal justice system, and appropriately sanction offenders.

The Criminal Code should be amended to create a new summary conviction offence for driving with a BAC above 0.05%. Given the BAC margin of error currently allowed by our courts, the new 0.05% BAC offence would be enforced at a 0.07% BAC limit. This new offence would bring Canada's federal BAC driving limit into line with the international trend to lower permissible BAC limits.

The new offence would complement the existing Criminal Code impaired driving offences, and be compatible with the current provincial and territorial short-term roadside licence suspension legislation. Similarly, the current Criminal Code provisions relating to demanding breath and blood samples, the consequences of refusing such demands, and the admissibility of the test results would apply to the proposed 0.05% BAC offence.

In addition to the BAC limit itself, the 0.05% BAC offence would differ from the existing 0.08% BAC offence in three significant ways:

-- First, the 0.05% BAC offence would contain ticketing provisions. The ticket would explain the consequences of pleading guilty and the process for contesting a charge. If the accused pleads not guilty, the case would proceed like any other federal summary conviction offence. However, an accused who pleads guilty would not need to make a court appearance. The ticket would explain the obligation to pay the fine and that the driver would be subject to an automatic federal driving prohibition.

-- Second, in keeping with the reduced risks involved, the penalties for the 0.05% offence would be less onerous than those for the 0.08% offence. A first conviction would be punishable by a $300 fine and a 45-day federal driving prohibition. Subsequent offences would be subject to a $600 fine and a 90-day federal driving prohibition.

-- Third, the proposed 0.05% BAC offence would be subject to special criminal record provisions. Offenders who did not have a subsequent Criminal Code impaired driving conviction within two years would be deemed not to have a criminal record for the 0.05% BAC offence and the information relating to it would automatically be destroyed. Consequently, an accused would not have to go to trial simply to avoid having a permanent criminal record.

The proposed 0.05% BAC offence is designed to deter impaired driving without being unduly punitive or creating unacceptable burdens on the police and the courts. Moreover, the option of pleading guilty without having to go to court may discourage accused persons from needlessly challenging the charges.
/For further information: www.madd.ca/ IN: JUSTICE, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Professor Robert Solomon, Director of Legal Policy
    Primary Phone: 519-661-3603