Many drinkers go their whole lives without thinking much about blood alcohol concentration (BAC). They have a drink now and then, and when they feel they’ve sobered up enough to make it home without an accident, they drive.
Are they truly sober enough to get behind the wheel? Maybe.
Others know just how much they need to drink to reach the legal limit of .08. And they stay well – or just – within that limit when they drive.
Are they truly sober enough to get behind the wheel? It all depends on your definition of sober.
A number of the latter group find Canada’s .08 limit irksome. “That’s just two (or three or four) drinks! I could drive easily with that amount of alcohol in me!” These drivers object to Canada’s legal limit (which is also the limit for the US and a number of other countries) as overcautious and nanny-ish.
They’re wrong for two reasons. One is that most countries employ a much tougher standard as a legal definition of drunkenness. Most of Western Europe uses .05 as their limit. Sweden, Poland, and China use .02 – that is about one drink for most people. So if Canada is a nanny, then France is a commandant and Sweden a jailer.
The second reason is that .08 is plenty of alcohol. A study in the US put a number to it:
At BACs in the 0.05-0.09 percent range, the likelihood of a crash was at least nine times greater than at zero BAC for all age groups. ”
And if .08 seems low for you (that’s about four drinks for an 80 kg man), suppose you double that? Say you put down 7 drinks and get behind the wheel.
At very high BACs (at or above 0.15 percent), the risk of crashing was 300 to 600 times the risk at zero or near-zero BACs. ”
So the answer to why Canada’s blood alcohol limit is so ridiculously low is that they’re not ridiculous at all: they’re rather generous, in fact, and they keep drivers from putting themselves and others in danger every day. People who test the limit by driving at .07 or .06 are increasing their likelihood of a crash. That is why Ontario imposes provincial penalties for drivers who blow in the “warn range of .05 to .08.
So complain about city traffic, about snow, about the condition of roads, parking tickets, or whatever you want. But be grateful that the .08 limit is there to keep you safe on the roads.