CAA-Quebec commends alcohol limit measures, but not before cannabis legalization

Published: August 11, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Impending legalization of marijuana means the proposed lowering of the legal alcohol limit is poorly times, no matter how well intentioned. That is the view of the Quebec division of the Canadian Automobile Association (CCA-Quebec), which has described the proposal as “commendable” but also unworkable with cannabis about to be legalized in 2018.

“Marijuana legalization is going to require major investments in prevention, awareness-raising and policing,” said Marco Harrison, director of the CAA-Quebec Foundation for Road Safety, in a statement from CAA-Quebec. “And the amount and degree of progress of such efforts, as well as the planned amounts to be invested, are already worrisome. If the [blood alcohol content] limit is reduced to 0.05 as well, we believe the governments would be biting off more than they can chew, and the pill for motorists would be too hard to swallow.”

In its statement, CAA says Quebec is Canada’s only province has yet to adopt new measures for drivers with BAC levels between 0.05 and 0.08. These measures are “meant to serve as a serious warning, but without criminal consequences.” Harrison said that these measures are “very effective because they make people think. But because they don’t exist in Quebec, going ahead with an immediate change to the Criminal Code, with no phase-in period, could well create a lot of confusion and discontent.”

CAA-Quebec is in favour of the measures and says evidence suggests there are real advantages if the limit is lowered:

“Fully 59% of members surveyed in early 2017 said spontaneously that they would agree with such penalties,” the statement noted. “And when told that the risk of a fatal collision increases two- to nine-fold for a driver with a BAC level between 0.05 and 0.08, they are in favour to the tune of 77%.”

“CAA-Quebec believes that this should eventually be done, but without skipping steps and by allocating the necessary amounts of money for prevention, awareness-raising and police crackdowns, without which such a measure could be less effective.”