EDMONTON, AB (August 28, 2012): The PC government’s new legislation that comes into effect this weekend will fail to get serious drunk drivers off the road and will be a counterproductive drain on police resources, Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw said today.
The law – which was pushed through the Legislature last year without consultation – levies new administrative penalties for drivers found to be between .05-.08 BAC, a level below the criminal code. According to a 2008 report prepared for Transport Canada, more than 33% of fatalities were caused by drivers in the .08 to .16 BAC range or more than double the legal limit. Under existing criminal code provisions, police officers can charge all drivers whose ability to drive is impaired, but Saskiw argued that dangerous drunk drivers will not be caught if front line enforcement is not beefed up. “It’s clear the overwhelming majority of alcohol related fatalities are caused by those driving above the .08 legal limit and insist on getting behind the wheel,” Saskiw said. “Instead of distracting and dividing our resources, we need to increase front line enforcement, get more officers and checkstops on the ground, and target dangerous, repeat drunk drivers who are a threat to keeping our families and streets safe.” The Wildrose has long advocated getting tough on drunk driving that includes cracking down on drivers who blow over .08 by hiring more front-line police officers and adding more provincial check-stop teams and will push for the provincial government to advocate for stiffer penalties and stricter parameters around parole for convicted drunk drivers at the federal level. Saskiw went on to say the legislation will divert badly needed police resources away from catching dangerous drunk drivers. “We’re going to have police officers waiting for tow trucks for hours on the side of the road while dangerous drunk drivers are out there,” Saskiw said. “This legislation will only clog up our front-line resources and will fail to tackle the serious problem of drinking and driving and protect Alberta families. We don’t need more public relations exercises in administrative law; what we need is more resources on the front lines so they can get dangerous drunk drivers off the roads, and harsher penalties for offenders.”