Driving while impaired by alcohol can be deadly. Although there has been a general decline in roadway deaths involving drinking drivers, recent statistics show that over one-third (37.3%) of fatally injured drivers had been drinking. Most of these drivers would be considered impaired and had blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over Canada’s legal limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (80 mg/dL) (Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, 2010).
Provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia, and countries such as New Zealand and Scotland, are starting to lower the BAC threshold to 50 mg/dL to minimize harm.
Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines advise that no alcohol is safest when driving.
Addressing alcohol-impaired driving
CCSA has reviewed the evidence and strategies to address alcohol impaired driving. Overall, CCSA finds the measures most effective in deterring repeat offenders are those that are swift, certain and severe. Enhanced short-term administrative sanctions, when combined with vehicle impoundment and monetary penalties, are a viable, effective means of reducing the magnitude of alcohol- impaired driving in Canada. Random (also known as mandatory) breath testing should also be considered.