The beer started flowing at 8:00 a.m. at this year’s Calgary Stampede. One would think that, by end of the ten-day event, the jails would be full of drunk-driving offenders. In fact, impaired driving arrests were down this year. 74 people were charged, down from 90 the previous year. Moreover, there were also no reported deaths from alcohol-impaired driving. That is despite looser drinking regulations from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission this year. The 8 a.m. serving time is two hours earlier than last year. On Parade day, the boozing began even earlier – 7:00 a.m.
Is the drop statistically significant? It’s hard to say. Last year’s event saw few reductions. If this trend continues another couple of years, then all of the education being done by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Calgary Police Service is having an effect.
Alberta stepped up its battle against drunk driving in 2012, when it began pulling the licenses of anyone who blew .08 or over on a breathalyzer. The license is kept until the court case concludes. That same year another regulation imposed a three-day suspension and vehicle impounding for anyone blowing between .05 and .08. Ignition interlock devices are required for all persons convicted of a DUI.
One hopes that the reduction is the reward of better anti-drunk driving education and stricter enforcement, and not just a blip in the statistics. We await next year’s report to find out.