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This week, media have been reporting on the growing controversy over a new drunk driving law in Canada. The new law penalizes drivers who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05. Statistically, in Canada, alcohol-related fatal accidents most often involve a driver with .12 BAC or higher. In the U.S., this statistic rings true. According to the Century Council, 60% of alcohol-related fatalities are caused by a repeat offender with a .15 BAC or higher.

Around the country, many organizations, interested parties, and government institutions debate laws to make our roads safer. Yes, researchers have determined that a person is impaired after drinking even one glass of alcohol, and many states have .05 BAC laws. Two states, Colorado and New York, actually have Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) laws that penalize drivers who blow a .05 to .07 BAC with jail time. Interestingly, research also shows drivers are impaired if they didn’t get enough sleep, and that a lack of sleep is equivalent to someone driving drunk.

What are we really trying to accomplish with our drinking and driving laws? Is there evidence of a level of impairment at .05 BAC that driving should be prohibited and drivers should be penalized? Or is the objective to provide a mechanism for early intervention—that maybe drivers who go on to drive drunk at higher BACs might be caught and perhaps diverted from future irresponsible drinking and driving? Is this just the next step in an inevitable progression to zero tolerance laws for every driver on the road?

What do you think? Is lowering the legal limit to .05 BAC ensuring our roads are safer? How much safer would our roads be if we did lower the limit? Would it potentially reduce the number of drivers who eventually, statistically, cause the most serious accidents?

The one uniform objective: Everyone wants to see safer roads and fewer drunk driving accidents. Is Canada on the right path?

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.

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