As another long weekend approaches, citizens are reminded to be aware of drinking and driving legislation and to take caution on the roads.
There is no exact formula for what amount of alcohol will put a person over the limit – factors such as size, age, sex, weight and more all come into play. If there is concern that one might be over the limit, don’t take the chance.
“Ignorance of a law is not a defence,” said Cpl. Phil Penny of the Blackfalds RCMP.
“I’ve dealt with people who say, ‘I had no choice’. Call a friend, your parents or bring cash for a cab. I would say that it’s an active choice not too. It’s about having foresight and using proper judgement.”
Alberta legislation regarding drinking and driving is available all over the Internet. There is no excuse, police say. The Alberta web site has a section under transportation that lays out all of the legislation in an easy to comprehend format.
For people without access to the Internet, they can access any police station, in person or by phone, to find out exact penalties.
It is a citizen’s job to be aware of the legislation, police say.
“One of the things too is the public sometimes has a sense that they will have two drinks and be over a limit of .05. Normally, the response I will give is I can’t tell you how much or how little alcohol is going to put you over the limit,” said Penny.
“There are so many variables that contribute to a person’s alcohol level compared to how much they’ve consumed. We can’t say, ‘You can have four drinks and be fine, because there is too much else to think about’.”
According to the Criminal Code, a member of law enforcement is allowed to make a demand to someone that they suspect has alcohol in their system to provide a breath sample in a roadside-screening device (RSD).
That helps an officer determine whether a person has no alcohol in their system, or if they have some, in which case the officer then is aware of where they fall in terms of a criminal or provincial offence.
Drivers cannot decline the demand to provide a sample.
“The real basic answer is the authority comes from the Criminal Code. It is a demand – not a request. A request denotes the ability to say no. A demand, a person can say no, but then they carry the same punishment as blowing over the line,” explained Penny.
“We do not request, we demand it. If they are failing to provide a proper sample that can analyzed, that is an offence in and of itself.”
Penny reminds all drivers that at the end of the day, an offence will affect a person in multiple aspects of their life.
“There are impounding fees, court fees, lawyer fees. A three-day vehicle seizure will cost you maybe $300 or $400 just to get your car back. Good luck travelling with a criminal record. There are a lot of things that ripple down the line that people don’t consider.”
Be aware of the penalties and consequences of driving under the influence. Losing countless freedoms or the loss of a person’s life is not worth the risk of drinking and driving, even for a short amount of time, he said.