In Alberta, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of just .05 could result in a three-day forfeiture of your vehicle. This tough legislation has been on the books since 2012, but the Wildrose party wants to change it.
While criminal penalties in provinces across Canada only apply if a driver’s BAC measures .08 or greater, a reading of .05 will still garner some stiff administrative penalties. The Wildrose party wants to restore the .08 limit across the board.
Drew Barnes, MLA for Medicine Hat, claims that the new law has been a hardship on the hospitality industry, as liquor sales at restaurants have declined. There have also been complaints that law enforcement officers are not happy about having to issue citations to people with a BAC above .05 but lower than .08.
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith proposed an alternative strategy to lowering the limit – funding five new checkstop teams of sheriffs to hold checkstops around Alberta.
The .05 law has been controversial since it was passed. Party members engaged in a beer coaster campaign, handing out coasters that encourage drinkers to vote against the lower limit.
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Canada objects to the party’s proposal, maintaining that with a BAC of .05, drivers’ skills are still impaired and the risk of a crash is increased. Danielle Smith is on record as saying that the real danger is with drivers whose BAC is .08 or above.
There is no one standard for judging impairment. In the United States .08 is the standard limit, while in Asia and Europe limits are usually lower, generally ranging from .02 to .05. Where Alberta will eventually fall on this scale will depend on how popular the Wildrose Party’s proposal is with voters.