Thursday, December 8, 2011

.05 Alberta Impaired Driving Legislation

So Alberta passed the new 'drunk driving' legislation including:

For drivers whose bloodalcohol level is between 0.05 and 0.08, first-time offenders in Alberta would be subject to a three-day suspension of their licence and a three-day seizure of their vehicle. A two-time offender could lose the licence and vehicle for 15 days.

I have watched for local and provincial citizen reaction and time and time again see people commenting that 'you don't need to stop at the bar on the way home from work and have a drink', or 'if you are going to the bar, take a cab, problem solved', etc. Time and time again I see people referring to 'the bar' as the place people don't need to go unless they have alternate transportation to and from.... I would wager that over 80% (if not 90%) of the comments in support of this legislation mention bars, nightclubs, and pubs.

Okay. But - what about those dastardly alcohol beverages that are NOT consumed at 'the bar'. What about going over to your friend's house for a nice dinner and they serve wine. If you drink that glass of good red whine and then drive home - you are no better than anyone who stops at 'the bar' for a drink after work. You could lose your car and license for 3 days, just the same as all those 'bar hoppers', depending on how your body reacts to a glass or two of fine wine. Have those same supporters thought of that? Just curious.

I should throw in here that I very rarely drink. And I do not drive at all (I have never gotten my license because driving gives me major freak out phobia). So this law will not affect me at all. My partner maybe drinks 4 cans of beer and a glass of cheap Arbor Mist zinfadel a YEAR. So it doesn't affect him either. In the past 6 months I can count the number of drinks I have had on one hand. So yeah - I am not whining and complaining about this new law because I like to have a drinkie poo and then go for a spin in my car. That doesn't happen.

But I can see where this law could cause some havoc. If the federal guideline for impaired driving is 0.08%, then how can this legislation fall under a 'drunk driving' title if the person is blowing 0.05 or 0.078? Who decided that you are in fact too impaired to drive with 0.05%? I know that drunk driving is an issue and I would lose my damned mind if one of my family members was hurt by such a driver - however, this is not the leading cause of vehicle related deaths, and it is dipping below the federal approved level so I'm not quite sure how that can happen. I did a quick check online and found that many other countries have their statuatory level set at .05 so perhaps Canada is behind the times with this issue - however, it still stands here federally at .08 so it doesn't matter what Sweden or Belgium say, does it? I just find it odd.

So then I looked up stats for 'how many drinks is .05', knowing of course that this is subjective due to many variables. Time since consumption, height/weight, age, gender, each person's individual reaction to various alcohol (such as, because I so rarely drink, I can feel a slight buzz off of one 5% vodka cooler), etc. I played around with an online DUI calculator and discovered that if a 130lb person drank two large glasses of 7% wine with supper, and then drove within one hour, they would be at 0.049%. Or if they drank a fancier wine, a nice  Jackson Triggs Sauvignon Blanc at 13.6%, maybe a glass and a half, they could be at 0.048% if they left within an hour. It's just a guess - they could be higher, or they could be lower - but it's something that the supporters of this need to think about. I know an awful lot of people who serve a glass of wine at the dinner table, especially if having friends over - and now those friends will have to say NO because on the way home, they could wind up losing their car for 3 days. If a smaller woman, 115lbs, had a glass and a half of that wine, the site lists it at .055%. Oopsy over the new limit. It's that easy. 

But at the end of it all, driving is a privilege not a right, and drinking alcohol is a choice not a necessity - so people need to think about that too if they are complaining. But what concerns me is the number of people driving around out there who are prescribed prescription narcotics like pain killers and even muscle relaxants. I have worked with people who pillpopped all day and then drove home at night. They spoke of their aches and pains and how they were practically immune to their meds - which I highly doubt - and popped T3s, T4s, naproxen by the handful, and stronger meds - and then drove. They won't blow diddly squat if they are stopped. So it bothers me that a person who consumes a glass and a half of wine at a family dinner could lose their car for 3 days, while others who were poppin' oxycontin like tictacs all day can just carry on through. Cripes, I was given Imitrex one day for a migraine and I was SO looped on that stuff I could literally hardly move. I threw out the rest of the pills cos there was no way I could function on those - but I have friends who drive within an hour or so of popping a couple. Yikes. 

I understand the war on drunk driving, but there are so many other things going on that are putting people at risk - even in Alberta where we have people who only have their provisional license driving around all over the place, but have never bothered to go back to get their full license. Apparently that is going to change (or already has?) where there is a time limit imposed on how long you can drive around with the easy license before having to get the full one - but for now, the provinces has too many of those drivers to count. I heard on the news awhile back that over 300,000 drivers in Alberta do not have their full license. Surely I misheard that frightening total???????? But even 30,000 would be too many. So - because it's easier to have someone blow into a tube and measure their BAC, they get the rap first. 

And meanwhile, I know of at least one repeat DUI offender who keeps getting off on his charges because his lawyer knows how to work the system. This guy was even driving when a friend was killed in the crash because this guy was drunk! And here he is, driving around town with a brand new car he purchased after totally his last one this summer in a drunk driving wreck. The 4th of his that I know about. So you better get young Sally, who had a glass of wine with her grandparents one night and drove home - but leave the repeat over .08 offender to drive around again and again. Hell, my brother in law has had FIVE drunk driving wrecks that totalled all 5 vehicles, and he is still out driving around. The longest he lost his license for was a year and he drove anyway.... which is why he did so well on his test retake after getting his license back. THOSE are the people we need to be tougher on first, don't ya think?


  1. Your point is well taken. It's a "penalize the masses because of the minority" legislation...and I don't drink at all..ever. Am allergic to the stuff.

    I wonder what a three day suspension costs? Towing, storage, processing, taxi's, buses and on and on.

    One of the unmentioned aspects of this legislation is the impact that this has on restaurants. Lots of lost jobs and closed businesses will result from this beauty.

  2. Add to all the problems highlighted above the fact that a "breath sample" to provide a reading of the level of alchohol in your blood is by defintion inaccurate.

  3. "So it bothers me that a person who consumes a glass and a half of wine at a family dinner could lose their car for 3 days, while others who were poppin' oxycontin like tictacs all day can just carry on through"

    Don't give the activists behind this legislation any more ideas,or in a few years you'll see some type of law regarding prescription drug use.

    This law is bad law, penalizing the 99.9% who don't break the law,for the sake of appearing to do something about the other.01%. Same mentality as gun control. I believe the DUI laws are an example of a few activist tyrants in an essentially well-meaning organization using the law to bully their fellow citizens.

    Just as smokers have become social pariahs, soon drinkers will,too, as the zealots at MADD will never quit until we have de facto Prohibition.

    Bad law,and if Albertans don't vote these people out of office next election,there'll be many more to come in this vein.

  4. I cannot think of another situation where you need a blood test to find out if you are a criminal. Anyway 0.05 is not impaired, and 0.08 is only slightly impaired, probably similar to being short a couple hours of sleep.

    Why don't they crack down on the crazy drivers and especially the tail-gaters? I have never even heard of anyone getting a ticket for tail-gating. We would all drive safer and slower if we didn't have some idiot up your a$$ all the time.

    thans, JohnnyD

  5. omg i wrote a big reply to these comments earlier and it's gone grrrrrrrr. okay in point form... lol....

    I do not trust little breath gadgets to give an accurate result either way. Either accurate for having any alcohol or a proper reading for someone that is impaired.

    While DUI is not the leading vehicle crash cause, it does seem to be a factor in about 30% of accidents so I do think that there is some need to crack down on it but it seems to me that they should be making penalties for those who are over .08 tougher instead of trying to go after those that are even lower. I have family members who have gotten DUI tickets NUMEROUS times (as posted in my main piece) and they are still driving around. What does it take before they lose their license for a lengthy amount of time??

    I do feel that even though I don't think people need to have a drink and get behind the wheel, this law and others are invading private lives. Take checkstops for example. You are out driving around, doing your own thing, and up pops a Checkstop. You HAVE to go through it even if you haven't had a drink in your entire life let alone that night. You HAVE to stop and then an officer asks you questions while shining a light in your face and looking at your passengers. What the heck is all that about???? Geezus. I remember years ago when my oldest two kids were much younger, we were simply going from my house to a friend's house so she could babysit and I could go out (taking a TAXI to the bar later)... We got caught up in a checkstop that took over 30 mins to get through. My kids were whiny and annoyed and hot because they were geared up for winter and boiling in the car. It was so stupid. We were asked if we had had any alcohol that evening, where we were going, where we had just come from, how long we were going to be out for, etc. I was an over 30 yr old mother with 2 little kids, and the driver was a 50 yr old woman. OOOOOO we look scarrrrrry. Better stop us and question us. It's totally ridiculous. How many people do they actually catch from checkstops at 7pm anyway? Think about the hundreds or thousands of people stopped at each one and how the vast majority of them have done absolutely nothing wrong. Now I wonder if while out driving, we could be asked to submit to a breathalyser just to see if we are at .05. I have not seen yet what their protocols are for requesting a breathalyser. Are they the same for the impaired driving? If you swerve a bit or speed or something are they going to ask? I don't know. I guess we will find out sometime in January.

  6. It's a good thing that this kind of law exists. It's also good that somebody thought of first-time offenders too. This way, they're given the chance to rehabilitate themselves, so that they wouldn't repeat the same mistake twice. They can get off with only a warning and everybody could be happy. Of course, now that the holidays are at our doorstep, the predictions of impaired driving incidents are pretty high, but hopefully something would happen and drivers would be more attentive.

  7. They don't get off with only a warning! The police can take their vehicle for 3 days. Taking a person's private property based on blowing into a little tube and having it pop up at .05 which is below the legal limit in this country and province. Ok - that's good? I would also hasten to add that ALL of the people I personally know who received drunk driving offences and were found guilty, fined, and barred from driving for 6 to 12 months or even in one case 10 YEARS - alllll of them reoffended. Some were caught again, some were not. But each and every one of them reoffended.

    So I'm not really sure how many people will think twice about driving after having a couple drinks. In the meantime, it could also be discovered, like it is in too many other cases, that the breathalyser machine was not callibrated properly. Now there is no way to know if the person really did blow over .05, or if they were under, or if maybe they were even over .08.... but they still lose their car and pay a fine and I imagine some sort of fee to get their car out of police lockup. That's GOOD is it?

  8. As is often the case, someone getting behind the wheel of a car when drunk or a bit tipsy, doesnt believe that they are not safe to drive. How many of them do you think stand and look at their car and think 'gee I really shouldn't drive'. If they consciously thought that, they probably wouldnt get behind the wheel at all. But that's not what happens. I know. I have been in countless vehicles with drunk drivers - as an equally drunk and stupid passenger. I do not recall ever thinking 'oh oh, johnny is too drunk', or I would not have gotten in. I didnt think anything other than 'i have to get home' or 'woohooo let's party'.

    The president of my school's SADD program was drinking and driving the whole time he was prez. I saw him myself. I dragged my best friend, who was dating him at the time, out of his car when I was sober and knew he was tanked. Then he drove away. He drove his motorcycle when so drunk he could hardly get on the damn thing... but if you asked him today if he drove drunk while being SADD prez, he would say no. I know - because I asked him how he managed to give all those speeches at school when he had been drinking and driving two nights earlier. He looked at me like I was crazy and said no, he didn't. OH PLEASE. how does he think he got home from all those parties? It's denial. Plain and simple.

    I had a friend over at my place a few years ago and she had brought a 6 pack of beer with her. I had one and I saw her with one but kind of assumed that she wouldnt be going overboard because she was driving home with her 3 year old daughter. Imagine my shock after she left and I walked past her spot on the couch and saw FIVE cans of empties stacked up at the side. I nearly fainted! I thought she had one or two over the course of the evening and took the rest home in her bag. But nope, she drank 5 in two hours and then drove home with her kid. I felt like a horrible person for not realizing - but it's just not something I would do (i rarely drink and had a buzz off one can) - but I vowed after that to never let anyone drink at my house unless they were NOT driving. When my brother is here for holidays, he takes my mom home and cabs back to my house, or my boyfriend follows and brings him back - then he is allowed to drink and takes a cab back to our mom's.... But how many people do that? How many go through all that and will alter their ways even more, now that 2 or 3 drinks could wind their friend up in a big pile of trouble?

    Ive had a few friends killed over the years because of drinking and driving (either as the driver, or as a passenger). It's horrific. But I dont think that lowering to .05 is going to do anything. Maybe taking everyone's keys at the bar and not allowing anyone out the door until they have blown, or shown that they are taking alternate transit? I don't know - that's pretty invasive as well. But pretty much all drunk drivers that I know did not think they were that bad. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and one of those is the ability to give a crap about what could happen if they get behind the wheel. I've only known one person who said 'oh man, i dont think I can drive' while drunk but we were already on the road at that point. I've known people who were very tired who drove just as erratically. It's a terrible thing but I do not understand how lowering the blow beneath the federal level is going to change anything. Does it make people fear that they could hurt someone, or does it make them fear purely that they could lose their car?



These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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