The Redford government hopes tough new alcohol driving rules that come into effect this week will make Alberta's roads safer by encouraging more motorists to stop mixing liquor and driving.
Whether that hope will translate into reality will, of course, depend on whether drivers are convinced that the tough new penalties that come along with the new rules really do make alcohol-fuelled driving not worth the risk.
Starting Sept. 1, a person with a blood alcohol level between 50 mg and 80 mg per cent found driving a motor vehicle will face a three-day licence suspension and a three-day vehicle seizure. And those penalties increase for repeat offences.
“We want to encourage drivers to plan ahead and make the right decisions for themselves, for their passengers and for other people on the road,” says Ric McIver, Alberta transportation minister.
Jonathan Denis, minister of justice and solicitor general, says the new rules are “100 per cent about driver safety. Nobody has the right to drive drunk. Alberta's police will continue to enforce the existing rules and ensure drivers get to their destinations safe and sound.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has come out in support of the new rules, saying they are an important step forward in efforts to reduce drunk driving in Alberta.
“We welcome the implementation of stronger .05 penalties and commend the Government of Alberta for its leadership in the effort to reduce impaired driving,” said Denise Dubyk, MADD Canada National president.
Family members of the many, many Albertans killed in drunk driving crashes in recent years obviously don't need to be convinced that Dubyk's comments are right on the mark.
Yet in a very real sense, the anti-impaired driving message needs to get through to the people who have not had their lives damaged or ruined by drunk drivers.
In particular, Alberta's young people need to be convinced that they are making the right and proper choice when they choose to use designated drivers or other safe transportation after drinking.
Of course, for some Albertans these new alcohol driving rules won't make a bit of difference in their decision to drive drunk. Whatever the penalties or consequences, some people will always drive, whether they are impaired or not.
Nevertheless, any and all efforts made to make Alberta's highways and roads safe from impaired drivers, including these new Alberta rules, should be applauded.
And now that the new rules are in place, maybe the next step for Premier Redford and her government colleagues should be to significantly increase the penalties and punishments handed out to people still stupid enough to drive impaired?