As federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announces she is considering lowering the legal alcohol limit for licensed drivers, some say it’s far from the solution to reducing drunk driving.
Wilson-Raybould sent a letter to Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée in May in which she suggests lowering the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood from the current 80 milligrams.
The federal minister says the change would make it easier to fight drunk driving.
Not so, says Hubert Sacy, the director of Éduc’alcool.
“You don’t pull a rabbit out of a hat and just decide that this is the magic answer to everything,” Sacy told CBC News.
“Everywhere where drunk driving has decreased it has never been the result of a legislative change only,” Sacy continued. “There’s tons of measures that need to come before that.”
Sacy says much of the work needs to be done on the provincial level, including increasing the perception that drivers will be caught if they drink over the limit, as well as the number of roadblocks and giving restaurant and bar servers the power to stop drunk patrons from driving.
Wilson-Raybould says the current rules were established after research indicated the risk of being involved in a car crash was twice as likely when a driver has 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his or her system.
The minister writes that modern-day research suggests earlier data underestimated that risk.
Wilson-Raybould said in her letter to Vallée she was keen to hear her colleague’s thoughts on the proposed legislative change.
But, Sacy says, “nowhere on Planet Earth, by just changing one law, have things improved.”
Change would hurt restaurateurs, spokesperson says
The prospect of a lower limit is especially worrying to the restaurant industry, according to Martin Vézina of the Quebec Restaurant Association.
He, too, would like to see other measures put in place before reducing the limit, which he fears will discourage potential patrons from going out to restaurants and bars at all.
“It will be a change in the consumer habits,” he said. “Some citizens will say, Oh I will stay at home,” and drink instead.
Vézina says it wouldn’t only impact alcohol sales, but food sales as well. It would hit the industry even harder in areas outside cities, where the only…