The widespread knowledge of the dangers of impaired driving does little to deter those who step behind the wheel drunk.

This week, a Toronto city councillor plead guilty to driving while over the legal blood alcohol limit, while a Quebec man was charged with drinking and driving for the 17th time.

But experts say it will require far tougher measures than a public awareness campaign highlighting the perils of impaired driving to curb further incidents.

An RCMP Constable holds a breathalyzer test in Surrey, B.C., in this September 24, 2010 photo.

Bonny Stevenson started viewing the world in a different light after her 17 year-old son Quinn was killed by a drunk driver in 2013.

“Whether you’re at a concert or a Saskatchewan Rush game where you seriously see a lot of drinking in the building. I find it going through my mind how are all these people getting home and how many of them are getting behind the wheel,” she said.

On Monday morning the provincial government is set to announce changes to the province’s impaired driving laws and Stevenson, a Saskatoon resident, is excited. Stevenson will be in attendance along with other families affected by drunk driving, people from MADD and SADD, and law enforcement representatives.

Stevenson said the penalties for drunk driving need to get tougher for repeat offenders and that killing someone driving drunk should be treated the same as any other situation where someone is killed. Robin Tyler John, the man who killed her son, received a two-year federal prison sentence.

She also said she would prefer to see the government adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward drinking and driving.

“It’s always that Russian roulette that you play thinking, ‘OK, I haven’t had that many, I’m OK, I’m OK.’ I think zero tolerance just simplifies that, makes it black and white,” Stevenson said.

Rand Teed, an addictions counsellor and educator in the province, is also in the zero tolerance camp but said he doubts that will happen. As an alternative, he suggested a reduction of the current legal blood alcohol limit of .04.

“Going down to .02 for the suspension period and .04 for increased consequence. I think that would maybe help people get away from the idea that, ‘I’m OK, you know I can drive’,” he said.

Education about drinking issues also needs to be increased in the province, Teed said. In 2011 the Canadian Addictions and Mental Health and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse released low-risk drinking guidelines which Teed said have not been widely taught in Saskatchewan.

“The lowest drinking guidelines indicate that a female shouldn’t have more than two drinks a day and a male shouldn’t have more than three. And there should be at least two days a week of no alcohol use to really limit the health risks involved with alcohol,” he said.

Dr. Peter Butt, an associate professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, agrees education is an important aspect. He also said the province also needs to do assessments for alcohol use disorders and provide treatment.

SADD president Carley Matechuk said the group will support any laws against drinking and driving.

“There are things that need to be done. Clearly what we have is stopping some drinking and driving but we obviously need more,” she said.

Source: Leader Post


Last updated on: 2017-08-18 | Link to this post