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25% of Canadians feel legal limit should be lower

Open Letter to the Editor
Honourable Martin Cauchon, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice
Dear minister,
The Road Safety Monitors comprehensive Drinking and Driving report released on December 12 by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation revealed, among other things, the following: Canadian drivers support initiatives to deal effectively with drinking and driving such as requiring drivers suspected of drinking to perform sobriety tests, mandatory breath testing of drivers involved in collisions, immediate impoundment of vehicles driven by impaired drivers, alcohol ignition interlocks, a zero BAC restriction for convicted offenders, and greater use of police spot checks.
The report also revealed in the past year, about 1.7 million Canadians (7.9% of drivers) drove when they thought they were impaired, for an estimated 8 million impaired driving trips; fewer than three percent of drivers accounted for more than 80% of all the impaired driving trips. This latter finding is consistent with a large body of research which has consistently shown that a small minority of individuals – chronic offenders – account for most of the impaired driving and most of the damage on the road.
As part of the Report, respondents were informed that “The blood alcohol level specified in the Criminal Code of Canada as being the limit over which it is illegal to drive is 0.08.” They were then asked whether the current limit is appropriate. Just over two-thirds of drivers agree with this limit. Of the one-third who thing it is not appropriate, 80% believe it should be lower; 20% believe it should be higher. In total, this means that only one-quarter of Canadian drivers believe the current BAC limit of 0.08 in the Criminal Code should be lower.
Support for BAC limit in the Criminal Code is weakest in Ontario, where only 21% believe the limit should be lower. 22% of Quebecers believe the criminal limit should be lower. In the Atlantic Region, 30% support a lower limit, while in the Prairies 28% do. Drivers in British Columbia were most supportive of a lower BAC limit – 36% think the limit should be lower.
A copy of the full report, The Road Safety Monitor 2002: Drinking and Driving, is available at
Emile Therien