Clearly stated

Alex Harrold
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Driving a point home

I' m not even sure this is a bone of contention anymore. When I first heard about it several weeks ago, a number of callers to the open line shows expressed the view that they had a bone to pick with the government's decision to seize anyone's driver's licence who was found to have even a trace of alcohol on their breath.

I' m not even sure this is a bone of contention anymore. When I first heard about it several weeks ago, a number of callers to the open line shows expressed the view that they had a bone to pick with the government's decision to seize anyone's driver's licence who was found to have even a trace of alcohol on their breath.

Essentially, even though the legal limit of alcohol in the blood was set at .05 for the purposes of determining what constituted a legal limit, you could be found to have less than that and still have to surrender your licence. On top of that, the seizure of the licence is for a week, rather than the 24 hours currently referenced in the regulations under the Highway Traffic Act. I heard several callers throw themselves into resisting this move body and bones. I couldn't help but wonder why.

According to what I heard, and the wife says I've needed a hearing test for years now, some callers indicated the government was going too far in infringing on certain rights. Part of the counter argument takes up the question of how the government can arbitrarily reduce the legal limit of alcohol in your blood and treat you as if you committed a crime, when the law hasn't been changed. The argument appears predicated on a certain belief that your rights as a driver are being eroded by government intervention into existing laws that clearly articulate an allowable higher percentage of alcohol.

After several callers went on in this vein, I couldn't help but question why someone wasn't pointing out the obvious false assumption these callers were making, and that is: driving isn't a right, it's a privilege extended by the state. Actually having to secure a driver's licence ought to be your first clue. If you look up Section 50 of the Highway Traffic Act, you'll even discover that, although a licence is granted in your name, it is property of the Crown. They can pretty much take it back almost whenever they want under the seizure provisions of S. 60 of the Act. It's the 'almost' part where the regulations respecting that privilege come into play.

Section 60.1 (2) references the specific limitations regarding alcohol content in your blood being set at 50 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood. Generally speaking, the responsible minister of any piece of legislation enacted under their department is given fairly wide discretionary authority within an Act to provide for new or additional regulations that govern the application of that Act.

While the Highway Traffic Act may not speak directly to a minister's authority to lower the blood alcohol limit and provide a new penalty, these powers tend to go along with the portfolio. You might begin to see why election time should be more about the experience of the person you're voting for and less about their personality, but what do I know? It's a rhetorical question. You don't need to answer it.

A larger question might be this: What's wrong with reducing your legal alcohol limit if you're going to be driving? If you think about all of the factors related to alcohol that affect different people differently, you might come to the same realization as me that a .05 limit is arbitrary to begin with.

Just because it's an accepted limit doesn't mean that you can't be negatively affected by a

lower amount, or any amount. We need to keep that in mind when you see headlights approaching you on some dark and stormy night, knowing there is actually a legal limit of alcohol that, arguably, shouldn't be present in any quantity if one is going to be operating a motor vehicle.

While we're at it, let's ban texting to go along with cell phone usage already banned, and include more serious repercussions for these activities well documented to interfere with one's ability to accelerate a two-tonne machine in either my or your direction at a fast enough rate of speed to effectively terminate our already brief existence both immediately and permanently.

Anything that can contribute to reducing the possibility of having to pick up either my, or your lifeless bones off of some highway should get our full support. Isn't your life worth more than someone's alcohol related driving privileges? 

 

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