Countdown to Zero Tolerance


Canada's Mothers Against Drunk Driving is pushing a law to lower the national BAC threshold to .05.  Actually, they've been pushing the law for some time.  They just recently found an MP to sponsor it.

Canada went to .08 years before the U.S. did, and proponents of the lower standard cited Canada's law as evidence of America's short-sightedness and failure to get tough on drunken driving.  It worked, with Clinton signing the new standard into law in 2000, blackmailing the states into adopting it or risk millions in federal highway funding.

Of course, DWI deaths inched upward after the last states adopted the new standard, after some 25 years of decline.  Critics predicted that increase, citing studies showing that intoxication levels of .08-.10 don't significantly impair the ability of most people to drive.  The new standard simply tied up police resources at roadblock checkpoints, which became widespread and necessary after the new standard passed—precisely because people between .08 and .10 don't drive erratically enough to be caught by officers patrolling the highways.

So far, MADD's brass in the U.S. has declined to embrace .05.  But I wouldn't be surprised to see them reverse course if the new standard passes in Canada.  Bold, national campaigns make good filler for fundraising letters.  And MADD's had no problem embracing other bad ideas, like mandatory ignition interlock devices, and throwing parents in jail for taking a reality-based approach to underage drinking.