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Airdrie MLA calls for new drunk driving legislation

Anderson says system should return to pre-2012 rules

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 10:43 am

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Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson and the Wildrose Party said the party would revisit the province’s Impaired Driving legislation if elected to office next year.

Currently, the driving limit is 0.08 for a blood alcohol level, but RCMP can place penalties on drivers with a blood alcohol limit of 0.05.

On July 1, 2012, Alberta implemented tougher sanctions for drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. On Sept. 1, 2012 tougher sanctions were also implemented for drivers with a blood alcohol limit of 0.05.

“We would return it back to what it was before where if an officer thinks the driver is impaired they can suspend their license for 24 hours but that’s it,” Anderson said.

According to Anderson, the Wildrose Party would do away with the 0.05 limit and instead put more sheriffs on the streets and step up enforcement for those driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.

“We want to change the focus from those driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.03 to 0.07 that statistically speaking they aren’t the ones causing the accidents,” he said. “It’s the 0.08 mark that statistically speaking does impair driving, we want to focus all of our resources on catching those people.”

Anderson said his party has been in talks with the Calgary Police Service Association, and a big concern over the 0.05 limit was “clogging the system with paper work.”

“There’s a ton of paper work with a 0.08 (conviction), they are worried that a lot of officers won’t want to spend all that time in court,” Anderson said.

“If we had unlimited resources maybe both systems would be best, but we don’t, we have to ask what is the best way of cutting down (on impaired driving)… and the way to go is after 0.08 people,” Anderson said.

“There is no shred of evidence that this (system) works, it’s just a mis-utilization of resources.”

According to the government, since the tougher sanctions came into force, there was a 46 per cent decline in the number of alcohol-related fatalities in 2012 compared to the same period for the previous five years.

According to RCMP, over the last five years, there have been 43,111 criminal convictions for impaired driving in Alberta.

From 2008 to 2012, 471 people were killed and 7,397 people were injured in alcohol-related collisions.

According to Mother Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), Canada’s current system for detecting drug-impaired drivers is not working and changes need to be made.

“Drug-impaired driving has become a much larger part of the overall impaired driving in problem in Canada over the past several years,” said MADD Canada President Angeliki Souranis. “But when we look at the impaired driving charges laid, just a small fraction are for drug-impairment.”


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