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Push for .05 BAC Limits in Canada; On-Premise Pushback there and in Utah Continues

The debate over reducing legal BAC driving limits to .05 in North America continues.  In Canada, a federal justice Minister recommended a nationwide .05 limit earlier this year (.08 is the limit in Canada, but most provinces already levy penalties for drivers over .05).  Several Canadian newspapers picked up the debate earlier this week, quoting Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s supporting arguments and several industry-based criticisms of the proposal.  She defended a federal limit of .05 as a way to “better respond to the dangers posed by impaired drivers,” by sending a “stronger message” to all drivers.  Recent scientific data, she claims, suggests that earlier research had “underestimated the fatal crash risk” of driving at lower BAC levels.  She also pointed to the experience in Ireland where lower BAC levels resulted in significant declines in fatal crashes and criminal charges.  (Interestingly, MADD Canada supports a lower BAC level, in contrast to the public position of MADD in the US.)

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Quebec restaurateurs feared a “significant drop in total revenues” that would result from the policy change, as “celebrations, parties, all that will be done at home as people change their behavior.  It’s easy to talk about taking a taxi or public transportation, but in the [outlying] regions, it’s not easy.”  Meanwhile, a spokesman for bar owners looped in pot parallels, noting Prime Minister Trudeau “wants to legalize marijuana – he wants everyone to get high.  It’s a double-standard.  He wants everyone to get high but prevent them from drinking.  Where is the logic?”

Just as the on-premise folks in Canada are stepping up to resist a reduction in BAC levels there, their counterparts in the US continue to push back hard against the pending BAC limit reduction in Utah.  The American Beverage Institute’s latest volley caught the attention of the media and politicians there. The ad’s headline, “Too Impaired to Drive?” runs over pictures of 11 state legislators, including Governor Gary Herbert.  Each is 65 or older.  Below the pictures, the text points out that NHTSA research shows “people over 65 are more impaired ANY TIME they drive than consumers at Utah’s DUI arrest level of .05 BAC.  If Utah legislators believe drivers at .05 should go to jail, should those over 65 be arrested for DWO (Driving While Older)?”  ABI continues to seek repeal of the law.

Not surprisingly, several legislators took issue with the ad. One of those pictured said “it lacks class and is in poor taste.”  One legislator who opposed the BAC limit reduction called it “bullying” and “fear tactics.”   Another opponent said he was “Outraged!”  ABI responded that it was simply trying to point out how “silly” and “unreasonable” the new BAC limit is, not to suggest that all senior drivers are impaired.  (Source: St George News, Deseret News)

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2017
  • Volume: 34
  • Issue #: 26
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