Lots of people have opinions about the legal Canada BAC level. That level is .08 BAC (blood alcohol concentration), which indicates intoxication everywhere in the country. Some people are okay with it, some say it’s too high, and there are even those who say it’s too low. Those people think it’s safe to drive home safely with a BAC of .08, and the legal limit should be higher.
The federal government certainly does not believe that it’s too high. Last spring the idea of lowering the limit to .05 was buzzing around Ottawa. Now it appears it’s not going to happen. Reasons given are vague, but lawmakers are going to concentrate instead on Bill C-46, which imposes new laws governing driving under the influence of cannabis, among other measures.
The Warn Range
The idea that .08 is too high has been permeating provincial lawmaking for a few years. Most of the provinces and territories suspend drivers who are caught with a level of 0.05, and all of Canada with the exception of Nunavut have a BAC level of zero for new drivers
The zone from .05 to .08 is called the “warn range.” Usually a suspension and fine is levied, but the penalties are administrative, not criminal. The measures are a warning for the drivers to change their ways.
Is C-46 The Better Option?
While statistics show that lowering the Canada BAC level to .05 would reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes in the country and thus save lives, it’s worth looking at the bill that legislators will be concentrating on instead.
- Sets limits on THC levels for drivers, whether or not the driver is judged impaired.
- Impose extra penalties on drivers found to have THC and alcohol in their blood
- Introduces new roadside tests for cannabis
Those who question the bill note that cannabis detection is a dicey proposition: two people can have the same amount of THC in their bloodstream and one will be impaired, the other not. The substance can stay in the blood for days after the high dissipates, in contrast to alcohol.
Still, drugged driving is nearly as popular as drunk driving in Canada, and so far the government has come up with few measures to combat the problem C-46 is a good start. It might well prove imperfect, as laws often are, but at least lawmakers and safety advocates can learn from the information gleaned after the law is passed.
We hope that Ottawa revisits the lower Canada BAC level at some point. Many countries have a limit lower than .08, and their road safety data prove that stricter measures work to save lives. Till then, Canada will have to take a detour and grapple with drugged driving.