Alcohol and young drivers are, we all know, a bad mix. That’s why provinces have a zero alcohol tolerance rule for drivers 21 and under who are completing their graduated licencing requirement (GDL). If they are checked by police, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be .0 percent.
Now Nova Scotia is requiring new drivers to keep to the zero percent level for two years after completing the GDL. Moreover, this new legislative amendment applies to all new drivers, regardless of age. If they violate the rule, they stand to lose their licence.
Zero alcohol tolerance makes sense. The standard practice of lifting the .0 BAC requirement after the GDL is complete usually occurs when the driver is about 19 years old. That’s a vulnerable age, a time when which peer pressure still counts, and binge drinking is common. Of course, young people are more likely to drink to excess, and if they drive, are more prone to crashes. A couple of extra years of total sobriety gives the driver a chance to mature a bit. Developing proper driving habits and judgment takes years, and impairment doesn’t help make it happen.
The Nova Scotia law goes further: all new drivers, underage or not, must remain alcohol-free for two years. Even if you apply for your first licence in middle age, you are going to have to keep away from all alcohol if you drive. Again, it’s a good idea, as any inexperienced driver, young or old, needs the benefit of a 100% clear mind when tackling the task of driving.
The province has also passed another legislative amendment that allows certain offenders who have lifetime driving bans to regain their licence, provided they install an ignition interlock on their vehicle. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
The rule gives a second chance to offenders, but protects the public through use of the interlock device – everyone wins.
Kudos to Nova Scotia for taking these very well-considered steps in their effort to promote road safety.