There’s been a lot of talk lately about Alberta drunk driving laws, especially Bill 29. Bill 29 will ‘decriminalize’ impaired driving in Alberta, and by doing so will result in drunk driving offenders to be penalized more quickly than if they had to work their way through the court system.
Bill 29 will allow for immediate driver’s license suspension, vehicle seizures, anti-drunk driving classes or education, and mandatory participation in Alberta’s ignition interlock program. The zero tolerance laws in Alberta would also change, and that means there would even stricter rules on zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs for anyone on the Graduated Driver Licensing program.
The changes that would come from passing Bill 29 would mean that Alberta drunk driving laws follow more closely to British Columbia impaired driving laws, and these changes would put more power in the hands of the police and offenders would spend less time in court rooms.
It sounds like a good plan for Alberta, but not everyone is in favour of the changes Bill 29 would bring. The Red Deer Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) isn’t impressed with the potential changes. They believe that Bill 29 creates unwanted loopholes defense lawyers will use to their benefit.
A spokesperson for MADD Red Deer has said that the change isn’t going to work because local law enforcement do not have all of the tools they need to take control of impaired driving and remove drunk drivers from the roads. She cited new breathalyzer devices as one of the needed tools that law enforcement in Alberta don’t have access to, and without these new tools and the training to go along with them, police can’t do their job. She believes, because of that, lawyers will use that lack of education and tools to find a way out of punishment for their clients.
She also feels that, along with the proposed changes Bill 29 would bring, the wording needs to change for Alberta drunk driving laws. She believes they need to use the term ‘manslaughter’ instead of criminal negligence causing death. With that one change, a drunk driver could spend a longer time in prison for his crime.
There’s no question that the changes to British Columbia impaired driving laws have resulted in a lower number of drunk drivers on the roads, and Alberta’s laws could do the same thing. Not everyone will be on board, but the real question will be whether or not these changes result in saving lives.