One in five people killed on Alberta's Highways are as a result of drunk drivers. To battle drunk drivers Canadas Province of Alberta has passed a new drunk driving law, which took effect on July 1st. The current law penalizes those drivers that have a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. On September 1st Alberta will move the threshold for punishment to .05.
Effective July 1st drunk drivers will have their drivers licence suspended indefinitely until the case is settled in court. Vehicles will also be seized.
Alberta transportation in announcing the new penalties said that it was focusing on those who receive Criminal Code offences, repeat offenders and new drivers, while focusing on enforcement and education, while changing behaviours through mandatory courses and ignition interlock use. Knowing that fines nor demerit points have not been the solution, increased traffic enforcement and tougher penalties are hoped to send the message to those that still continue to get behind the wheel after drinking. The Alberta government's focus is on safer roads.
The new law introduces the following penalties:
July 1st, 2012:
September 1st, 2012 (Blood Acohol .05 - .08
Source: Alberta Transportation
The indefinite licence suspension is a first in Canada and is being slammed by lawyers. Due to delay of cases coming to court, they say that it may force drivers to plead guilty. Law enforcement officials plaud the law, hoping that it will keep drunk drivers off the road in first place.
There is no doubt that there will be court challenges to this law, especially the .05 limit, which some believe does not allow for an after dinner drink. The Alberta government says it is not targeting those people that drink responsibly. Opponents to the law say it does exactly that, since those that drive drunk habitually are often well above the legal limit, often doubling it.
Regardless of which side of the law you stand, it is clear that drunk driving is a problem in Alberta and a solution has to be found. This law will, no doubt, be subject to court challenges, especially the indefinite driver suspension.