So I was driving home last night from the bar when I run across a check stop. Now, since I’d been drinking, my first panic reaction was ‘oh shit, I’m screwed’. I pull up to the officer and immediately mis-understand the first two questions he asks, in the process of him determining where I was coming from, and if I’d had had anything to drink. Of course, between that and my admission that I’d had three beers I wasn’t surprised to be asked to pull over for a breath sample.
Now, I’ve never been checked before on the road – the few times I’ve been stopped, I’ve always been waved through, or if they asked me, I’d never had anything to drink. So I really had no idea how close I was to being legally impared. Sure, I’d had three beers, starting at 6:30, finishing at 9:30, with a meal thrown in and it being 10pm now to boot, so by the standard one-drink-per-hour wisdom, I should be fine, right?
But I don’t feel completly sober, so I’m worried a bit, I calm down thinking it through, while waiting for the officer to come test me. After a few minutes, he arrives and we go through the routine – not routine for me – I’m just hoping that all is well. Then we have the wait a minute for the unit to process the result. Great – more waiting.
Finally the unit beeps and the officer says everything is okay, while the unit does show some alcohol in my system, I will be allowed to drive away when we’re done. He shows me the reading – “30” is what it says, which I take to be 0.030%, (=30mg/100ml, which is the legal use) well within the legal 0.08 % limit. He then says that I’m free to go after one of the MADD people talks to me.
I’m relieved at this point, but a bit annoyed about getting a potential lecture from the MADD people. But it turns out that they are just giving out goodie bags – I can handle that! So I drive off, feeling I’ve had a valuable lession – but not the one the Police / MADD people would like I suspects.
I have a yardstick to follow now – in that I know the drinking I did that night was well within the legal blood limit. However, don’t think for a second that I’m going to be drinking more based on the fact I was well under the limit. I consider myself from my own personal feeling, to have been “borderline”; at least now I know my borderline is well within the law. Also, consder that According to the government, you can be charged even below the limit. Based on how I felt at 0.03%, I don’t think I’d be fit to drive at double that, even though that is still within the limit. Also to consider these days, since a first charge nets you a criminal record, one year driver’s licence suspention, and a hefty insurance increase – it is way, way, way better to stay well on the safe side of the line, now that I have an idea where that is.
Oh, and there is some pressure to lower the legal limit to 0.05% If you can be charged at below that amount anyways, I’m not sure I see the point. I’m pretty sure at this point they’re taking away your keys for 24hours if you blow 0.05%, although according the Safety Councel link below not in Alberta, Considering how severe the penalties are, I think I’d rather see things stay the way they are – the Canada Safety Councel seems to think so too, which I found surprising. But what they say makes sense – countries with 0.05 limits have much less severe penalties for driving over the limit, often just a fine.
MADD would like to see the limit lowered to 0.05%. What they’d really like is a zero tolerance policy. I say if you’re going to have that, you need to remove radios, block off passengers, and have all controls not related to driving be dead while the car is in drive. Oh, and no driving allowed if you have not had at least 8 hours of sleep in the last 36 hours, and yearly driver tests. All of the above is too constricting. Let’s just let the officers have the judgement to make the call. I didn’t look like the most alert driver in the world so I got tested. Had I not seemed reasonably coherent while I was doing my test, I’m sure the officer would’ve impounded my car for 24 hours.
The system works. I just think about how I hardly see any drunk drivers anymore over the holidays – there used to be many more. No matter what, you’ll never get rid of drunk driving – people make mistakes, some people are stupid, no law is going to fix that.