The legal blood alcohol limit in Canada is .08, and that’s the standard the country has followed since 1969 when Parliament created the “over 80” charge for impaired driving. Now, almost 50 years later, the country is mulling over the possibility of passing the much lower limit of .05.
There are a lot of reasons why Ottawa would consider such a huge change to the country’s blood alcohol limit, but it begins and ends with saving lives. Research shows that you’re twice as likely to be involved in a car crash if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 than if you have no alcohol in your system at all, and if you’re at the .08 level you have triple the risk.
Canada wouldn’t be the first country to pass a .05 limit either: many European countries including Ireland, Austria, Germany, and Finland all have .05 as their legal limit, and the drop in Ireland has had dramatic results. They’ve cut their drunk driving crashes by 50% and their criminal charges by 65%.
Not everyone is for the changes, and if Ottawa moves to change the legal limit there will be an uproar in the hospitality industry. They believe that if the limit is .05 people will only be able to enjoy a glass of wine or two with dinner, and that losing alcohol sales will hurt the restaurant business.
If the restaurant industry is worried that people will only be able to have one or two glasses of wine before they drive, they’re ignoring the facts about drinking and driving. Any amount of alcohol, even one glass of wine, has the power to affect your driving skills. Instead of worrying that someone will only be able to have two glasses of wine before they drive, the restaurant industry should really be focused on promoting a blanket “no alcohol” behind the wheel policy and offering their patrons other safe ride solutions.
If the legal blood alcohol limit in Canada changes to .05 you’re going to have safer roads and fewer crashes, and despite the debate, that’s the bottom line.