January 25th, 2021

There are different kinds of driving impairments

By Lethbridge Herald on May 30, 2017.

A recent poll in the Lethbridge Herald asked if we readers agreed with a “court ruling that suspending licences of suspected drunk drivers violates charter rights.” The no vote tallied 59 per cent, the yes vote 41 per cent.
I don’t question voters who chose either side of this serious matter. What I do challenge is the wording of the poll. I would have substituted “impaired drivers” for “drunk drivers.”
Police are constantly being chastised for not doing enough to combat crime in this country and one of the most serious runaway crimes being committed by the widest range of people is driving while impaired — a phrase with many different interpretations.
There’s rules prohibiting driving while distracted (a serious driving impairment) — pages upon pages are dedicated to defining that category of distracted driver. We are bound by tough rules for seat belts, under-age, and over-age drivers, but nothing carved in stone to date addressing drug-impaired drivers — just “drunk drivers.
A cautious authority won’t let you take your newborn home until you prove you have a government-mandated seat for your child — but very little to protect her/him from mounting numbers of hard-addict and recreational drug users among us who choose to drive while impaired.
My concern is aimed at hard-to-detect drug impairments, a topic needing plenty of attention — to ensure citizens’ safety.
Alvin W. Shier

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as with all things gov’t, there needs to be limits to gov’t intrusions on freedom and privacy. indeed, we have more than enough invasion already with check stops, which stop citizens going from a to b for no reason other than “just in case, we are checking.” this nonsense is the tip of a slippery slope into totalitarianism, sold to us and confirmed by our supreme court as a legitimate trade away of freedom and privacy in the name of safety. those that blow over an arbitrarily set .08 are deemed as a criminal matter; recently, those blowing over an arbitrary .05 are deemed a traffic control matter. however, the heavy handedness attached to the newer infraction comes with questionable consequences, and appears to be without due process. although it remains another matter to be decided by the supreme court, that court has been ruling ever more in favour of “safety and security” over freedom and privacy.
as for what is impaired, it is clear it differs widely from individual to individual – whether one drinks or uses other drugs, prescribed or self medicated. however, a one size fits all approach became acceptable in order to allow gov’t the ability to far more easily prosecute “violators.” this approach does indeed catch people that are a danger on the roads, but it is also unfair in that people not functionally impaired get caught in the generic net. moreover, it catches people off the road, who may be over-limit, but are not actually driving their vehicle (seems being impaired anywhere in a parked vehicle without a sober person sitting at the wheel makes one a criminal). perhaps it is good news – not only in terms of road safety, but to also stem the erosion of our fundamental freedoms and privacy – that impaired driving may be a bygone issue, given the advent of driverless cars. beware, one’s car might be charged if its gasoline registers above 10% ethanol.