Ot­tawa look­ing to de­crease blood/al­co­hol limit

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Fed­eral Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­son-Ray­bould is con­sid­er­ing low­er­ing the le­gal al­co­hol limit for li­censed driv­ers, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter she sent to her Que­bec coun­ter­part.

In the cor­re­spon­dence to Stephanie Vallee dated on May 23, Wil­son-Ray­bould sug­gests low­er­ing the limit to 50 mil­ligrams of al­co­hol per 100 millil­itres of blood from the cur­rent 80 mil­ligrams.

The fed­eral min­is­ter said the change would “make it eas­ier to fight the danger posed by driv­ers who have con­sumed al­co­hol.’’

She said the cur­rent rules were es­tab­lished af­ter re­search in­di­cated the risk of be­ing in­volved in a car crash was twice as likely when a driver has 80 mil­ligrams of al­co­hol per 100 millil­itres of blood in his or her sys­tem.

“More re­cent re­search in­di­cates the ini­tial data un­der­es­ti­mated that risk,’’ she wrote.

Wil­son-Ray­bould said the risk is twice as high at 50 mil­ligrams and close to three times as high for 80 mil­ligrams, “and the risk in­creases ex­po­nen­tially af­ter that.’’

The min­is­ter said in the let­ter she was ea­ger to hear Vallee’s thoughts on the pro­posed leg­isla­tive change.

Nei­ther Wil­son-Ray­bould nor Vallee was avail­able for in­ter­views Tues­day.

Fran­cois Me­u­nier, who works for an as­so­ci­a­tion that rep­re­sents restau­ra­teurs in Que­bec, said the pro­posed changes would be a dis­as­ter for the prov­ince’s restau­rant in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly for busi­ness own­ers out­side the big cities.

“The new rules mean a woman can have one drink and a man, in most cases, two,’’ Me­u­nier said. “For­get about a bot­tle of wine for two, for a Valen­tine’s Day din­ner — that’s over.’’

Me­u­nier said his mem­bers are less wor­ried about los­ing al­co­hol sales than see­ing a sig­nif­i­cant drop in total rev­enues, as peo­ple choose to stay home.

“It’s about food sales that go with the al­co­hol,’’ he said.

“When it comes to cel­e­bra­tions, par­ties, all that will be done at home as peo­ple change their be­hav­iour. It’s easy to talk about tak­ing a taxi or pub­lic trans­porta­tion, but in the re­gions it’s not as easy.’’

Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Jody Wil­son-Ray­bould speaks to mem­bers of the me­dia on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa June 6. Wil­son-Ray­bould is con­sid­er­ing low­er­ing the le­gal al­co­hol limit for li­censed driv­ers.

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