Just one for the road

By Adam Zunder

The government of British Columbia is planning an advertising campaign letting people know that it’s ok to drink and drive—a little bit.

The move comes in response to aggressive drunk driving measures the province enacted in September. The measures allow police to apply a three-day driving ban on individuals caught in the “warning zone” with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) between .05 and .08. Drivers who exceed .08 can face a 90-day driving ban and 30-day car impoundment.

Most of the complaints about the new measures have come from the public and the hospitality industry. The latter has a faced a 15 to 30 per cent drop in business since the provincial government enacted aggressive penalties in September.

Drunk driving kills 130 British Columbians a year. While police claim the new restrictions have played a large part in reducing drunk driving, the Solicitor-General, Rich Coleman, pointed out that no hard statistics support this conclusion, and suggested that police have been too quick to exercise their ability to impound cars.

Coleman is concerned that individuals have the mistaken impression that they can’t have a drink with dinner and drive home within the law.

While plenty of drivers are able to safely operate a car after one or two drinks, there’s no reason for the government to encourage drinking and driving. Placing emphasis on the “safe” BAC needed to drive is problematic, because it’s not easy to assess qualitatively. People with certain body types and tolerances probably shouldn’t be driving after even a few drinks—BAC aside.

If drunk-driving measures are having a direct effect on restaurants and bars, which hasn’t yet been proven, these businesses should look to proactive measures that will allow patrons to drink without exposing others to possible harm.

Partnering with taxi companies for a discounted fare would allow restaurants to provide a safe alternative to driving home in fear of getting pulled over.

As long as people continue to drink and drive, the government isn’t doing enough to combat drunk driving. This decision is so inappropriate that it would be comical—if there weren’t lives on the line.

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