Impaired Driving

Drinking and Driving CounterAttack logoThere has been an interesting discussion in a driving forum that I moderate on the internet in the past week. The initiator of that discussion wondered why he had been hassled by the police for driving when his blood alcohol level was less than the legal limit. He felt that a 24 hour prohibition was inappropriate when he "only blew a warning."

The people who follow the philosophy that if you drink, don't drive and if you drive, don't drink are among the few who truly understand what is safe in my view. I've always wondered why the law waits until a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 50 mg% or more before any action is taken. Impairment truly begins before this BAC level.

A number of years ago the provincial government surveyed the police with regard to traffic enforcement. At that time I suggested there should be a ticket, much the same way as speeding is dealt with, for those who drink and drive. For zero to 20 mg% or about the value of one drink, nothing would happen. Between 20 and 35 mg% a fine comparable to the first level of speeding ticket should be issued. 35 to 50 mg% would see the next level, 50 to 75 a third level and 75 to 100 the fourth with levels 3 and 4 also bringing a 24 hour prohibition. Any BAC higher than that could be dealt with through criminal charges.

I've always thought it strange that a driver traveling 20 km/h over the speed limit received a ticket if caught and a driver with a BAC of 45 mg% was told to drive carefully and allowed to continue on his or her way. There is no doubt in my mind that the driver with the BAC is more dangerous than the driver with the slightly heavy foot.

Do our politicians have the wrong focus? Due to recent legislation a smoker is required to keep away from me, but it's still all right to have a few belts and get behind the wheel where you can kill me instantly. At least that seems to be the message from Victoria.