0% alcohol limits for drivers 21 and under

Starting in August, drivers up here in Ontario who are 21 years of age or younger will have zero-tolerance on their blood alcohol content.

As of Aug. 1, all drivers 21 years of age and younger must have a zero blood-alcohol level when they get behind the wheel or face harsh penalties, including an immediate 24-hour licence suspension, a further 30-day licence suspension, and up to $500 in fines.

Outstanding!!

Question: how much would a dose of cold medicine raise one's BAC?

I have a problem with this because it once again unfairly targets young people (and I'm 31, not in the target) and was essentially written by the special interest group MADD. The CBC article itself I learned of this from states that 15-25 year olds account for 33% of all alcohol influenced crashes. That means that the vast majority of said crashes are not caused by the group targeted in this law! In other words, the law is not addressing the largest problem demographic which is people over 25! Laws should apply to everyone equally and someone over 21 is just as susceptible to the effects of alcohol as someone who is under 21. The effects of alcohol also vary greatly depending on body weight, metabolism, how much is in your stomach and any other number of variables unrelated to age. They either need to make a zero alcohol tolerance rule across the board (which I wouldn't necessarily oppose) or leave the issue alone.

I have huge problems with MADD and the influence they have in Ontario politics. This is a group that once proposed legislation that would require breathalyzer ignition interlocks on every new car sold in Ontario, regardless of whether or not the owner had ever been convicted of drunk driving. They have repeatedly shown that civil liberties come secondary to their agenda and that they believe young people are the cause of all the problems we have on the road. Something almost completely contradicted by my own experiences of driving for a living for almost a decade. A general law like this that cannot apply to all citizens equally is a law that should not exist.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

I have huge problems with MADD and the influence they have in all politics. .

Fixed to reflect my thoughts on them. MADD is a neo prohibitionist group that will not stop until Prohibition is re instated. They are to drinkers what Operation Rescue is to abortion and what NOM is to gay marriage. I consider them just as dangerous as those other two groups.

edit: I'm not alone here, either; even MADD's original founder says so:

MADD founder Candy Lightner agrees. The non-profit group she started in 1980 after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver “has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned … I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.”
Seth wrote:

Question: how much would a dose of cold medicine raise one's BAC?

Enough that if you're that sick, you still shouldn't be driving.

LobsterMobster wrote:
Seth wrote:

Question: how much would a dose of cold medicine raise one's BAC?

Enough that if you're that sick, you still shouldn't be driving.

haha. I would love to see MADD reform themselves as Mothers Against Impaired Driving, who would viciously attack anything that people do in their car that distracts them, from listening to the radio to texting to putting on makeup to shaving to having kids in the car.

Although, I suppose having a group called MAID would lose some of its reputation.

Should I raise the point for my understanding of the law in america:

In the states its illegal to sell or sell alcohol to anyone under 21. Thinking about this, it makes no sense. It really baffles the mind how such an arbitrary requirement would do any good. I'm just confused and angry, I need a drink!

In the U.S. I believe plenty of states already have this law on the books.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

A general law like this that cannot apply to all citizens equally is a law that should not exist.

Haven't you heard? It is ok to discriminate against the young, but not the old.

Politics 101, always go after the easiest target. I'd still rather see their energy directed at repeat offenders and getting them off the road.

Ballotechnic wrote:

Politics 101, always go after the easiest target. I'd still rather see their energy directed at repeat offenders and getting them off the road.

Yep, the sad truth here is that young people tend to bitch at each other, old people tend to bitch at the politicians.

We do have very strict repeat offender laws on the books here already. I can't remember the specifics but the fines increase dramatically, as do the license suspensions and eventually, you can lose your license entirely and have your car seized. We already have some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the world in this province and I applaud them. I've had several near miss accidents with drunk drivers and people who are stupid enough to do that should have the book thrown at them. However, unfairly targeting laws towards young people who are no more likely to be negatively impacted by low blood alcohol isn't the solution. As Seth said, MADD won't be happy until alcohol is just banned outright and our government shouldn't be listening to them.

I don't want to start preaching about the evils of alcohol here or anything but it's kind of BS to call this discriminating against kids for easy political points. Kids, up to and including college-age, do really stupid stuff and think they're immortal. Throw alcohol into that mix and people wind up dead. Sometimes it's the kid and sometimes it's someone who was just minding their own business. I've seen the ambulances and read the obituaries.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

The CBC article itself I learned of this from states that 15-25 year olds account for 33% of all alcohol influenced crashes. That means that the vast majority of said crashes are not caused by the group targeted in this law! In other words, the law is not addressing the largest problem demographic which is people over 25!

Warning: I am a mathematician by training, if not by trade.

I'm not certain that you can lump people into two demographics, 15 to 25 and 26 to 115, and then compare them as if they were equal and point out that the one that only has ten years of people in it is a smaller percentage. The number of accidents in the first group is almost half the number of accidents in the second one, but the second one probably has four to five times as many drivers in it. This means that the number of accidents per driver is twice as high in the first group as it is in the second one!

Granted, this law applies only to those 21 and under. But the legal drinking age in Ontario is 19 anyway. Perhaps this law's intent is to teach younger drivers about designated and responsible driving, so that once they can legally drink, they don't go rush out and do it right away, thinking that "I can handle it". Now whether they can handle it or not, they'll still get arrested (if they get caught), so they have to start developing more responsible habits now, which hopefully will stick with them through the years.

I believe the morning's dose of Scope will give you a reading on a breathalyzer, yes? Or is that just urban legend?

LobsterMobster wrote:

I don't want to start preaching about the evils of alcohol here or anything but it's kind of BS to call this discriminating against kids for easy political points. Kids, up to and including college-age, do really stupid stuff and think they're immortal. Throw alcohol into that mix and people wind up dead. Sometimes it's the kid and sometimes it's someone who was just minding their own business. I've seen the ambulances and read the obituaries.

Adults don't do stupid stuff and think they're immortal? I see it all the time. I've seen the drunk drivers myself and every near miss accident I have had with one has been with middle aged people. Obviously that's my own subjective experience but it's nonetheless the case. This is a problem that is caused by people of all ages and therefore if this is truly being done in the interest of public safety, it should apply to everyone, not just the group that doesn't tend to complain as loudly.

I would say the law is designed allow kids to learn abut the effects of alcohol three years before allowing them to decide when they are safe to drive. I don't see how this is a bad thing.

Jayhawker wrote:

I would say the law is designed allow kids to learn abut the effects of alcohol three years before allowing them to decide when they are safe to drive. I don't see how this is a bad thing.

Kids already know that, though. If you're under 21, you already know that alcohol is illegal. So . . . making it more illegal is going to stop something? It's just another silly, symbolic act which more or less puts kids on double secret probation.

Well, since alcohol is legal at 19, that gives the kids three years to experiment while they can legally drink.

And there is nothing wrong with putting kids of double secret probation.

My opinion, 0% is impractical as its very difficult avoid alcohol totally. A level of of 50-80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood has proven to be a good level to pick for most of Europe and we love our booze. You cannot drink a pint or glass of wine and hope to be safe to drive so it just takes this issue of the menu, if you excuse the pun. 0% is just a symbol.

Is it physically possible to have zero alcohol in the blood?

Here in MI it is the standard .08 for drunk, .05 for impaired driving. Basically one drink and you get a nasty fine.
I have no issue with this.

I am more curious to see if teenage drinking is as big an issue in Ontario as in the US, and is this an anti-american law? It is no secret that in Windsor drunken Americans are a problem.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I would say the law is designed allow kids to learn abut the effects of alcohol three years before allowing them to decide when they are safe to drive. I don't see how this is a bad thing.

Kids already know that, though. If you're under 21, you already know that alcohol is illegal. So . . . making it more illegal is going to stop something? It's just another silly, symbolic act which more or less puts kids on double secret probation.

This. We don't need laws to educate our kids, we just need to educate them. And any kid that's intelligent enough to get a driver's license is intelligent enough to know that alcohol impairs your ability to drive. Hell, I was taught this in high school in the mid-90s. And there are any number of adults who are stupid enough to think they can drive when they're not in a position to. Laws like this state that young people are somehow more responsible for stupid choices than older people and that's a dangerous precedent. I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with a 0% rule (though some leeway will have to be given for things like the Scope example) but it has to be across the board affecting everyone who is potentially responsible, not just any one group.

Axon wrote:

You cannot drink a pint or glass of wine and hope to be safe to drive so it just takes this issue of the menu, if you excuse the pun. 0% is just a symbol.

Am I reading this incorrectly, or somehow miss the sarcasm? Drinking a beer or two with dinner or enjoying a glass of wine and some brandy for dessert certainly doesn't impair many people at all. And compared to more dangerous things like driving in the winter or driving during rush hour, it's just white noise.

Seth wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:
Seth wrote:

Question: how much would a dose of cold medicine raise one's BAC?

Enough that if you're that sick, you still shouldn't be driving.

haha. I would love to see MADD reform themselves as Mothers Against Impaired Driving, who would viciously attack anything that people do in their car that distracts them, from listening to the radio to texting to putting on makeup to shaving to having kids in the car.

Although, I suppose having a group called MAID would lose some of its reputation.

Easy enough to show up in costume, though..

What if we stop trying to prevent people from driving drunk and give them the opportunity to drive drunk! I'm going to look into the notion of drunken demolition derby. Come get wasted and crash into things, it's ok! I can even charge admission for others to watch. Maybe a little experience with drunk driving will let people know they're not good at it. Patent pending my friends, patent pending.

Commonly held belief is that 15-21 year olds are the highest risk drivers for accidents.

Assuming that's true, doesn't it make sense to encourage them to not do anything to compound that risk?

Frankly, I'd support a threshold low enough that one beer puts anyone over. For everyone. Including my beer-loving self.

Jonman wrote:

Frankly, I'd support a threshold low enough that one beer puts anyone over. For everyone. Including my beer-loving self.

I'd support this kind of threshold if it weren't for the fact that most of my friends love to throw house parties in places impossible to reach by public transportation and prohibitive to reach by cab. People seeking to reduce drunk driving may want to look at options that make it easier for people not to drink and drive (such as better public transportation), rather than throw the book at them if they've had one beer and decide to drive.

(Necessary disclaimer saying that I do not support driving while impaired but that I also do not believe that one or two drinks makes you impaired).

I have no tolerance for drunk drivers but I am just not sure that the level is set realistically. Will .005% create any impairments? Why set it at that level if it really doesn't impair driving?

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

I don't want to start preaching about the evils of alcohol here or anything but it's kind of BS to call this discriminating against kids for easy political points. Kids, up to and including college-age, do really stupid stuff and think they're immortal. Throw alcohol into that mix and people wind up dead. Sometimes it's the kid and sometimes it's someone who was just minding their own business. I've seen the ambulances and read the obituaries.

Adults don't do stupid stuff and think they're immortal? I see it all the time. I've seen the drunk drivers myself and every near miss accident I have had with one has been with middle aged people. Obviously that's my own subjective experience but it's nonetheless the case. This is a problem that is caused by people of all ages and therefore if this is truly being done in the interest of public safety, it should apply to everyone, not just the group that doesn't tend to complain as loudly.

Are you saying that since we cannot immediately solve everything, we should not begin to solve anything?

I don't drink so if they ban all alcohol for everyone, that doesn't really have an impact on me. It is my experience that kids do stupider things than adults and with greater frequency, if only because the very stupidest kids self-correct before adulthood. The fact that drunken adults kill people too doesn't mean cracking down on drunken kids will have zero effect. People don't drink and drive to meet some sort of global quota. They do it because they're idiots. If you have fewer people being idiots you have fewer idiot-related problems. Even if it's not fair how you picked which people are no longer allowed to be idiots.

Seth wrote:

Drinking a beer or two with dinner or enjoying a glass of wine and some brandy for dessert certainly doesn't impair many people at all. And compared to more dangerous things like driving in the winter or driving during rush hour, it's just white noise.

I'm going to pick on you, Seth. I respect and value your opinions so it's nothing personal.

You say that enjoying a glass of wine and some brandy doesn't impair many people "at all." Are you sure? The slightest bit of impairment is more than none at all, even if it has no consequence and even if it's not as bad as all these other horrible things. Furthermore, drinking any quantity has no appreciable effect on your driving skill if your car has burst into flames or if it's at the bottom of the ocean (usually not both at the same time). The fact that there are more dangerous things to do does not mean it is not dangerous, just as the fact that being very drunk is worse than having a sip does not negate the sip.

farley3k wrote:

I have no tolerance for drunk drivers but I am just not sure that the level is set realistically. Will .005% create any impairments? Why set it at that level if it really doesn't impair driving?

Because the idea is to stop people from driving drunk. If you're sitting there with a personal breathalyzer and a chart showing how quickly you metabolize alcohol, you have missed the point entirely.

LobsterMobster wrote:
farley3k wrote:

I have no tolerance for drunk drivers but I am just not sure that the level is set realistically. Will .005% create any impairments? Why set it at that level if it really doesn't impair driving?

Because the idea is to stop people from driving drunk. If you're sitting there with a personal breathalyzer and a chart showing how quickly you metabolize alcohol, you have missed the point entirely.

But if they have no impairments are they driving drunk? Are they drunk? If not then the law is punishing them for simply driving.

farley3k wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:
farley3k wrote:

I have no tolerance for drunk drivers but I am just not sure that the level is set realistically. Will .005% create any impairments? Why set it at that level if it really doesn't impair driving?

Because the idea is to stop people from driving drunk. If you're sitting there with a personal breathalyzer and a chart showing how quickly you metabolize alcohol, you have missed the point entirely.

But if they have no impairments are they driving drunk? Are they drunk? If not then the law is punishing them for simply driving.

Read this report (pdf,page 21)from the WHO. Sorry, but too busy to go into detail but the evidence is pretty cut and dry on this. 80mg and lower save lives and has been proven to do so. Proper enforcement is key, though.

Dysplastic wrote:

I'd support this kind of threshold if it weren't for the fact that most of my friends love to throw house parties in places impossible to reach by public transportation and prohibitive to reach by cab. People seeking to reduce drunk driving may want to look at options that make it easier for people not to drink and drive (such as better public transportation), rather than throw the book at them if they've had one beer and decide to drive.

But that's the logic we need to get away from. Your friends throwing booze-sodden parties in remote locations is not any kind of justification for impaired driving.

In the event of public transport not being available, the onus is on the drinker to either find a sober ride, or stay in place until sober themselves.

Dysplastic wrote:

(Necessary disclaimer saying that I do not support driving while impaired but that I also do not believe that one or two drinks makes you impaired).

One or two drinks doesn't impair me much, with my 200 lbs of booze-absorbing flab and liver of steel from a decade and a half of borderline alcoholism, but give a couple of glasses of wine to the 100 lb occasional drinker, and you've got a different result.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

I have a problem with this because it once again unfairly targets young people (and I'm 31, not in the target) and was essentially written by the special interest group MADD. The CBC article itself I learned of this from states that 15-25 year olds account for 33% of all alcohol influenced crashes. That means that the vast majority of said crashes are not caused by the group targeted in this law! In other words, the law is not addressing the largest problem demographic which is people over 25! Laws should apply to everyone equally and someone over 21 is just as susceptible to the effects of alcohol as someone who is under 21. The effects of alcohol also vary greatly depending on body weight, metabolism, how much is in your stomach and any other number of variables unrelated to age. They either need to make a zero alcohol tolerance rule across the board (which I wouldn't necessarily oppose) or leave the issue alone.

I have huge problems with MADD and the influence they have in Ontario politics. This is a group that once proposed legislation that would require breathalyzer ignition interlocks on every new car sold in Ontario, regardless of whether or not the owner had ever been convicted of drunk driving. They have repeatedly shown that civil liberties come secondary to their agenda and that they believe young people are the cause of all the problems we have on the road. Something almost completely contradicted by my own experiences of driving for a living for almost a decade. A general law like this that cannot apply to all citizens equally is a law that should not exist.

I'm going into territory I'm not really familiar with, but would this law not be in violation with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

15(1) wrote:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

When Manitoba went to graduated drivers licenses, including the a 0% alcohol limit for the first 3 years of your license, there was some discussion about it being based upon age. it was decided to have the provisions based upon driving experience in the end, and the penalty for exceeding the 0% limit is merely a 2-hour roadside suspension and a hearing.