Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Understanding Bill 26

Lots of discussion on twitter regarding the Alberta Governments implementation of Bill 26
While the Wildrose has mounted a coaster campaign and Government claiming it is too save lives, I thought I would weigh in my 2 cents in over 140 characters.
While in an intelligent conversation on Twitter with Minister Hancock I actually found it unclear what the actual intent is behind this bill. In my opinion it almost sounds prohibition like. Here is why, and I will use the words of Minister Hancock of course remember he only had 140 characters.

"@AlbertaAltruist Enforcement is important, but judgement is the key. It is not who is above .05, it is people who think they are ok when not"
Well no argument from me on this statement. Judgement is key in the drinking and driving issue. This being said, the bill indeed targets the BAC content of .05%. I responded @DaveHancockMLA To believe that .05 law will change peoples judgment is reaching IMO. What about accidents in 0-.05% Considered impaired? Again a reasonable response from the Minister to my question.
@AlbertaAltruist could be. impairment is not just alcohol level. people need to use judgement at a time when judgement is not impaired
My response:@DaveHancockMLA Dave, you are affirming in my opinion the .05 limit makes no difference. People knowing impairment level does & enforcement. This is where me the the Minister have our difference in opinion with this response.
@AlbertaAltruist the .05 gets people to focus + therefore makes a difference. KNOWING IMPAIRMENT LIMIT REQUIRES JUDGEMENT when not impaired

I am no scholar on the matter so I can only share my personal thoughts and questions on this. First off is the .05 limit legislated to prevent impaired driving deaths? If so why is it treated differently than the .08 laws. Does the BAC percentage make a difference when someone dies? In my opinion if your impaired, your impaired especially if the outcome is the same.
Secondly the Minister says the .05 gets people to focus. Really, because if I have a couple of drinks I honestly could not tell you if I was .02 or .07% BAC. Not only that, KNOWING IMPAIRMENT LIMIT REQUIRES JUDGEMENT when not impaired really makes no sense to me. After all they are setting the limit at .05, while claiming you are impaired.
What about the .01 to .05 range? There are accidents. Are these people impaired? If I am fatigued driving I may be a bigger danger than if I have a BAC of .05.Impaired?

In short, I think if .05 is impaired it should follow .08 laws period if it is to save lives. These limits generally mean nothing as we don't test our BAC prior to driving. The bill has given the power to let Police play judge and jury on people. Sorry but they are not trained for this. All in all I think this bill is a feel good bill for the election run up. Would love to hear what you think.


  1. Repeal the .05 law! Let's enforce the current .08 law. Minister Denis quoted on Rutherford that since 1998 300 people died due to .05-.08 accidents. He said that 20% of accidents are caused by this group. Now I am not inclined to believe this number, but if it is in fact accurate, then 80% of accidents = 1200 deaths were caused by .08 and much higher. What is he doing about that? AND if all this ranting about safety and saving lives was true, he'd be implementing it already not waiting until after the election. So lets make it an election issue and 'Say No to .05'

  2. Bill 26, to me, is an odd bill. I don't understand what testing was done to determine that 0.05 was dangerous versus 0.08. Did they have a test group of people drink to the specified limits then do motor skill tests?

    Alcohol affects people differently, from what I've seen, I am also not a scholar on the science of drinking but I know that I can drink 4 beers to my wife's 1 beer and be more "sober" than she is.

    I believe the point of 0.05 versus 0.08 was simply to scare people into not drinking/driving - from what I've seen it has had decent success at that. Restaurant/bar owners are complaining drink sales are down and when I am out socially my friends are a lot more aware of what they are drinking. What is the difference between 0.05 and 0.08 in functionality? Who knows like you said maybe 0.01 to 0.05 causes accidents in some people; while others can drive at 0.09 and be just fine.

    I don't believe there is a good number to determine when someone is "too drunk" to drive - I'd love to see some actual facts on how the rate was determined.

    Texting, eating, talking on the phone, and being tired are way more dangerous than blowing a 0.08.

    That being said if the new law saves 300 lives then has it been successful? More checkstops with the old law likely will have a bigger impact because the end goal is the scare people into using better judgement (because they aren't doing it on their own).

    I don't like that the new law is going to cost money to implement - to me it makes way more sense to spend that money on checkstops.

    It seems that people who are most vocal against the 0.05 law are so because they own a bar/restaurant. The truth is that the political parties who are against the 0.05 law want to have more checkstops - which in my opinion would also have the same detrimental effect on beer/liquor sales (if not more).

    At the end of the day I have no idea what my BAC is after a few drinks. I think 0.05 and 0.08 are virtually the same - the problem is the government needs to do something to get people to use better judgement - I think drinking and driving has dramatically reduced in the last decade but if 1500 people are dying due to drunk driving - then it is still an issue and something needs to be done.

    Unfortunately whatever gets done to save those lives is going to result in lower beverage sales for bar owners and no matter what laws get implemented there are going to be idiots driving drunk who don't get caught and eventually kill someone.

  3. Why not change the laws the so that D&D offenses are treated as intentional criminal activities? If I pound too many cold ones and get behind the wheel, and I kill someone, then I should be charged with Second degree murder at the least.

    It's about deterrence, but why punish those hard working folk that like to have and rightly deserve a beer or cocktail after work. We all have to be responsible, are we not grown ups? I don't need the Government telling what is right or wrong for me... that or ban Alcohol altogether...