While no decision either way has been made yet, some critics believe lowering the legal limit will only end up penalizing responsible adults.

Will lowering the legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) in Canada lead to safer roads due to less drunk drivers? According to Canada's Justice Minister, the answer is "yes," but not everyone agrees.

According to The Canadian Press, Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould wrote in a letter written this past May that lowering the legal BAC limit from .08 to .05 would send "a strong message through the criminal law and changing drivers' behaviour."

While no decision either way has been made yet, some critics believe lowering the legal limit will only end up penalizing responsible adults. Peter Sergakis, who is the head of an association representing bar owners, said the government should instead focus on stopping repeat drunk drivers, according to CP.

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Unsurprisingly, some bar and restaurant owners are worried about their bottom line. With more stringent drinking and driving laws, people may drink less when they have a night out, or those people could simply choose to stay home instead, where they don't have to worry about limiting their alcohol consumption.

Wilson-Raybould said that when Ireland decreased the legal limit in the country to .05 in 2011, and increased alcohol testing, there was a 50 percent reduction in deadly road accidents. She said the changes also resulted in 65 percent less criminal charges.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada has thrown its support behind Wilson-Raybould's idea. Anissa Aldridge, who is with MADD Canada's Atlantic chapter, says research shows that even at 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millimetres or blood, drivers are already showing signs of impairment.

Wilson-Raybould goes so far as to say that the risk of being in a fatal crash is doubled when a driver's BAC is at .05, and triple at .08.

Hubert Sacy, who is the director of Quebec-based organization Éduc'alcool, tells the CBC that a single law alone will do very little to make roads safer.

"Everywhere where drunk driving has decreased it has never been the result of a legislative change only," Sacy says. "There's tons of measures that need to come before that."

As divided as people seem to be in regards to what the legal BAC limit should be in Canada, it seems many agree that more road checks would help to catch drunk drivers. What's done with them once they are caught is, like the BAC limit conversation, a whole other debate.

 

Photo: Aimee & Paul Bogush on Flickr

Source: The Canadian Press via The Province, CBC, MADD

 

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