BC’s New Liquor Laws

Last modified on September 20th, 2010

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard about BC’s New Drinking and Driving Laws, which are now in affect. Here are the bullet points:

  • Warning range 0.05-0.08 (1-4 drinks): 3-day ban + $200 fine… additional fees make total $600
  • Greater than 0.08 (2-5 drinks): 90-day ban + 30-day car impound + $500 fine + possible criminal charge… additional fees of towing, interlock ignition device, responsible driver program, etc make total up to $4,060

I fully recognize that drinking and driving kills people every year, but these changes seem like they are completely targeted at making money for the province instead of keeping people safe. Having recently taken the serving it right course, I can tell you that a person of my height and weight can have about three drinks over the course of two hours and be under 0.08. I would definitely be over 0.05 though. So basically, the average person probably can’t have more than one drink at a bar before risking hitting a 0.05 BAC. Someone needs to do the calculations, but I suspect that for almost anyone, two drinks over anything less than three or four hours would make you impaired by these new standards.

Maybe I’m naive, but I have a hard time believing it’s the guys blowing 0.05 who are killing people. Having lived in a small town most of my life, it’s pretty routine for people here to hit a pub on a weekend, have a few beers, watch a hockey or a football game, then head home. If people drink too much, they call a friend or take a cab. If they have a few beers over three or four hours, they drive home. That used to be legal, precisely because it has minimal impact on judgement.

I personally don’t know of a single person who was even involved in or caused an accident after just a few beers at the pub. I do however know about lots of accidents where people were rip roaring drunk and decided to take the 2,000 pound vehicle for a spin. That’s stupid, and people die. By all means, crack down on the people who are over 0.08, especially if they are repeat offenders. But 0.05 just seems like a money grab (and I suspect cops will be giving out tickets and 24 hour impairments based on their *discretion* for values below that as well).

How will this affect bar owners and servers? Servers have a responsibility to make sure you don’t leave the establishment while impaired. If 0.05 is now an official cut off, that would mean most women would probably blow that after no more than a single glass of wine. Does that mean waiters and waitresses should cut people off after having a glass of wine?

Between the new mobile phone laws (which I’m convinced don’t make an ounce of difference towards safety), the new HST, and now the fairly archaic liquor laws, I suspect a lot of people are going to simply stop going out at all.