October 13, 2016: Despite laws, awareness and education, people still get behind the wheel impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Every year, impaired driving claims between 1,250 and 1,500 lives, causes more than 63,000 injuries and costs the Canadian economy $20 billion.
MADD Canada has a proud history of promoting best practices in public policy and legislation, at both the federal and provincial/territorial levels to effectively address impaired driving. With the Territorial election coming up on November 7, MADD Canada is reaching out to candidates to discuss the problem of impaired driving and to outline our key legislative and policy recommendations to improve Yukon’s impaired driving laws. These policies include:
- Increase Immediate Roadside Licence Suspensions for Drivers with BACs Over .05%
Driving skills become progressively impaired at .05% BAC and higher, and the relative risk of a crash rises sharply at that level. Provinces and territories first enacted warn range (.05% to .08% BAC) administrative licence suspension programs in the late 70s and early 80s as a means of temporarily removing drivers with BACs between .05% and .08% from the roads. But there were significant shortcomings with these early programs, including a short licence suspension period of just 24 hours. These early programs provided little incentive for impaired drivers to change their behaviour because the sanctions were minimal.
Yukon is one of the few jurisdictions that has maintained that 24-hour licence suspension; most other jurisdictions have enhanced their .05% BAC sanctions to either a 3 or 7 day licence suspension for a first infraction, with escalating suspensions for subsequent infractions.
MADD Canada recommends the Yukon introduce a 7-day licence suspension for drivers with BACs between .05% and .08%, in order to maximize the deterrent impact of the law and reduce rates of impaired driving.
- Add Corresponding Vehicle Impoundments to the Warn Range Administrative Licence Suspension Program
Further to strengthening the immediate roadside licence suspension, MADD Canada believes corresponding vehicle impoundments should be added to the warn range program. Drivers who violate the .05% BAC regulation would lose both their licence and their vehicle for a period of time.
British Columbia and Alberta have both introduced vehicle impoundments, along with other administrative sanctions, and the results have been significant. The rate of alcohol-related crash deaths has decreased by 54% in British Columbia and by 25% in Alberta.
Given the positive results being seen in British Columbia and Alberta, MADD Canada recommends the Yukon include that component in an immediate roadside licence suspension program.
- .00% BAC Requirement for All Drivers 21 Years of Age and Under
Alcohol is a factor in nearly 50% of all crash deaths among 15 – 25 year olds. Zero BAC requirements have been shown, both internationally and in Canada, to reduce the rate of alcohol-related crashes among young people. While zero BAC restrictions for young drivers are part of most Graduated Licensing Programs, the restriction is typically lifted when the young driver completes the program. This usually occurs around the age of 18 or 19, which corresponds to the legal drinking age in most jurisdictions and is a time when alcohol consumption and rates of binge drinking increase.
To better protect young people, several provinces have extended the .00% BAC restriction to drivers 21 years and under, including Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Yukon is one of only four provinces and territories which does not have some kind of .00% BAC requirement for young drivers.
MADD Canada recommends the Yukon adopt a .00% BAC requirement for all young drivers aged 21 year and under.
The Yukon has fallen far behind other jurisdictions in Canada when it comes to strong and effective impaired driving laws.
During this election, and beyond, MADD Canada hopes that the Yukon’s election candidates will commit to adopting strong legislative policies to reduce impaired driving. Our outreach to election candidates includes a brief questionnaire asking if they will support the measures outlined above. The responses will be posted on this page in early November.