Last year the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission lightened up on drinkers at the Calgary Stampede. Those who attended the legendary rodeo festival were allowed to start drinking at 8:00 a.m., ignoring the customary 10:00 a.m. opening time that bars in other parts of Alberta must observe. On Parade Day, one could get a beer at 7:00 a.m., if necessary.
Public safety advocates were worried that drunk driving incidents would skyrocket at the Stampede, but it didn’t happen. In fact, there were fewer DUI arrests last year than the year before.
This year, the Commission has decided to keep the expanded drinking hours. Attendees proved that they can drink responsibly, so there’s no reason to quash the festivities. No doubt the police and MADD will be watching the DUI and arrest numbers at this year’s event to see if the trend continues. So will we.
If the DUI arrest numbers go down again, it will be more proof that the province’s alcohol safety education efforts have paid off. The AGLC has promoted responsible drinking through a number of campaigns, including one encouraging drinkers to call #TAXI to get a ride home after a night out. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Calgary has also worked to educate the public on the dangers of drunk driving.
In an effort to stem drunk driving, Alberta has also adopted strong ignition interlock laws. An ignition interlock prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. According to MADD Canada, Alberta has one of the best ignition interlock laws in the country.
Sometime in July the new DUI figures will show whether the AGLC’s faith in the average Stampede attendee was justified, or whether they backed the wrong horse this year.