While Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson cheers the success of new impaired driving laws, other authorities contend it's too soon to say whether the stricter measures are keeping tipsy drivers off the road.

In the first three months under the highly publicized Bill 26, the Calgary Police Service recorded 201 immediate roadside sanctions. The stiffer administrative measures allow police to impose minimum three-day licence suspensions and impound offenders' vehicles.

Repeat culprits face increased penalties.

The law - which targets motorists with a blood-alcohol level between .05 and .08 - has made a difference since it was introduced in September, Hanson told the Herald in a year-end interview.

"The early reports are that it has had a significant effect," he said. "The word has got out there and we have less people who are drinking and driving."

Asked about the early snapshot of suspension figures, traffic section inspector Michael Watterston said it shows more Calgarians still need to "use common sense."

"It's surprising with all the attention it's getting that people wouldn't err on the side of caution," he said in a recent interview.

But fellow inspector Dean LaGrange, commander of the Calgary Police Service's traffic section, believes it takes more than three months to make a qualitative assessment.

That sentiment was echoed by the Alberta Motor Association.

"It's too early," said AMA spokesman Don Szarko.

AMA - the province's largest drivers' organization - runs a mandatory remedial course on behalf of the Alberta government for those criminally convicted of impaired driving under the new law as well as repeat offenders.

Only one or possibly two Albertans have been registered in the program due to the so-called "low BAC" legislation, Szarko said.

The association plans on waiting for a full year of numbers to surface before evaluating its impaired driving program. However, anecdotal evidence suggests social drinkers are being more cautious before getting behind the wheel.

MADD Canada president Denise Dubyk believes the harsher administrative penalties are beginning to resonate in Alberta. She expects to see that reflected as the numbers continue rolling in.

"It is still too early," she said "We're going to be able to see more as time goes on."

Source: The Calgary Herald



Last updated on: 2013-01-01 | Link to this post