Changes to Impaired Driving Provisions

2012 Provincial Legislative Changes to Impaired Driving Provisions

The public needs to inform itself of proposed legislative changes to provincial impaired driving provisions. Alberta’s provincial government is proposing a number of changes that has people concerned about individual rights and individual freedoms.

2012 Provincial Legislative Changes to Impaired Driving Provisions

The public needs to inform itself of proposed legislative changes to provincial impaired driving provisions. Alberta’s provincial government is proposing a number of changes that has people concerned about individual rights and individual freedoms.

The provincial government is first proposing to make the legal limit .05 rather than .08. Many are concerned with this, because the Province is now trying to make illegal that which is not criminally illegal! Can the Province do this? This will remain to be seen, since lawyers (such as ourselves) will be arguing the constitutional validity of this proposed change. One question the public should ask itself is why has the federal government not made this change? In fact, this change was proposed to the federal government, debated, and specifically not put in place by our elected federal government.

So why is the province doing this? Because the Provincial government wants to punish people without giving them any constitutional protections ensured by the criminal process. First, people do not have to be found guilty, but are automatically guilty and punished…there is no court process, no innocence until proven guilty. The Alberta Government wants to skip the Courts and deny a fundamental democratic process of innocence until guilt is proven, something that should cause every citizen concern

The provincial proposal will also have very little review process. Proposed punishments relate to brief vehicle impoundments and licence suspensions that only last a few days. By the time a person can appeal, they will already have served there punishment…sounds fair, doesn’t it?

Another concern is that these punishments are based on the “fail” reading from a roadside screening device, a result that is not even admissible to prove anything in the criminal court process! Why is this of concern? Because these devices are not infallible. Even something as simple as cigarette smoke can cause concern over a reading, or the recent consumption of alcohol, factors that the police are not even required to ensure are NOT present before proceeding with a test.

Punishment and Guilt First…that Is the New Provincial Motto…

Reducing impaired driving is an important goal, but not by sacrificing individual freedoms. Our focus should be on training and enforcement, not on increasing punishments that do not work. Governments have been increasing punishments for decades, to no visible effect, and now they want to curtail individual rights rather than spend the time and effort to where it would be most effective. Reducing the legal limit to .05 will simply increase the confusion as where the permissible line is between legal and illegal consumption.

One final thought…if the province wanted to really curtail drinking and driving, why is the limit not 0.00?

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