Monday, April 19, 2010

Warn Range Suspensions

I felt like I needed to do a blog post this week but wasn't sure what it was going to be about. There are so many topics to choose from in the world of Traffic Safety. Then the topic was provided to me.
I came into work this morning and received a notice that the Toronto Police Service issued it's first 30 day suspension under the Province's Bill 203 Legislation. That means this one driver, a 30 year old male from Scarborough, has been issued two previous suspensions for registering in the warn range for alcohol in his system while driving.

That's the legislation that recognized driver's who operate a motor vehicle under the legal limit but with alcohol in their system had to be recognized, tracked and made more accountable for their poor choices. As far as all police are concerned, if you drink the choice is simple...DON'T DRIVE!!

Let's review.
The legal limit to operate a motor vehicle under the Criminal Code of Canada is .08. In normal terms that means there are 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood of the tested subject. Anything over that warrants a charge of Drive Over 80 mgs.

The warn range is the area between .05 and .079.

Prior to May 1, 2009 the suspensions were 12 hours and you could pick up your licence at a police station after the 12 hours passed. On May 1st last year, Bill 203 took effect which created sanctions for those persons who registered readings in the Warn Range.

For a 1st time instance in that range, you will receive a 3 day licence suspension. Your licence is forwarded to the Ministry of Transportation.

For a 2nd instance: driver suspended for seven days and must undergo remedial alcohol education program
Third or subsequent instance: driver suspended for 30 days, must undergo remedial alcohol treatment program and have ignition interlock condition on their licence for six months.

This legislation, agree with it or not, is extremely important to the protection of the public and forwarding road safety measures.

Benefits of Bill 203 (The drinking and driving part of it)
First, it allows for the tracking of drivers who have registered breath readings in this area. Those drivers who choose to drink and drive are considered high risk road offenders in that action alone. Now, we can get a better picture of how many of those drivers continue to put all of us at risk with their potentially deadly choices.

Second, it allows for a measure of prevention. I know I don't want to risk losing my licence for 3 days, let alone having that on my divers abstract...did I mention that? Sorry, each time that you register in that range, it goes on your drivers abstract...can you imagine what insurance companies think about drivers who are considered high risk?
Finally, the legislation makes it possible to educate those people who not only self identify as high risk road users, but creates an opportunity for those persons to be educated as to the dangers of their choices.

Now, before you start talking about the government and the police are taking away all your fun, remember, it's not illegal to drink if you are of legal drinking age. It's not even illegal to drink before driving. It is illegal to drink too much before driving. You are your own liquor control board. So the choice is 100% up to you.

Our message is simple if you want to drink, go ahead, but if you are going to be driving have a plan not to drive and stick with it. Public transit, cabs, designated drivers, hotels are all great options and a lot less expensive than defending yourself against criminal charges, tow bills and the real price that would be paid if you kill or injure yourself or others.

What do you think? Do you like the legislation, feel it's too harsh or maybe that it doesn't go far enough. Let me know.


  1. This does not apply to bicycles, right? I know in Europe where bicycles are common, they can drink on their bike.

  2. Meanwhile, many of the Toronto courts are adopting a policy of automatically offering a reduced plea to an HTA charge of Careless Driving (Section 130) from Impaired and /or Over 80 mgs charges (Criminal Code) where readings are up to 120 mgs / 100 ml. Yes, you heard me right. Oh, and did I mention they get a fine less than half the minimum for the CC, and best of all NO LICENCE SUSPENSION.


  3. It's the nanny state mentality. We have to protect everyone from everything. Sigh.

  4. Sadly this does not apply to bicycles. But riding after drinking is insane! No protection and a less stable platform.

  5. I think that a lot of that has to do with the fact society has done a terrible job of doing the obvious...don't drink and drive, don't drive distracted, wear your seatbelt...the list goes on and on and we keep ignoring the obvious.

  6. Sadly, that has happened all too often. The police arrest and process the accused only to have a plea bargain set in place. The best suggestion I can make for this is let your MP and MPP's know that this is not acceptable and demand changes.

  7. All I can say is this is a useless blanket law that doesn't really help much, at the end of the day. I mean, different people handle their alcohol differently - a 100 lb girl that has 5-6 drinks versus a 250 lb guy who has the same amount, they might register above 0.05 but one of them is going to be completely hammered while the other one is still pretty sober. You take a guess which one.

    I'd suggest imposing voluntary and optional drivers tests that are performed under the influence of alcohol, and if someone can still drive perfectly fine even at 0.08 level of alcohol in his blood, and can pass that test 3 times in a row, he gets a special drivers license that grants him immunity from random police checks and sobriety tests up to an additional level or something.


    Because I can hit 0.05 pretty easy - 2 glasses of vine and you're already there... now, that's regardless the fact that I am still 95% sober even after 3-4 glasses (hey, as I said, different people handle their alcohol differently) and can drive just fine without a glitch. But hey, as per the blanket rule, I can have my license taken away.

    They said it well - we are not tried in courts of justice... we are tried in courts of law, and who writes that law, well... you can tell so far.

  8. This is actually a great law. It contains education, awareness and sanctions that will cause many people to think twice before having that "one for the road".

    You hit two points that need to be cleared up. As far as a person's ability to 'handle' alcohol you are talking about impairment. Some people show the effects physically much more readily than others.

    The .08, .05 etc is the measurement of alcohol in a person at the time of testing. There are variances in how fast alcohol is absorbed. The bigger the person, the gender, food consumption etc all play a part in this but it is measured by volume. ie, drop a bowling ball in a bucket and the results are very noticeable, drop it in a lake...not so much. But it is still there.

    There is scientific papers that have been written and one of the most used one in the courts now came from the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences that states that a person, no matter their size, gender etc, is physically impaired at .05 mgs.

    It is also a fact that impairement begins with the first consumption of alcohol. You might not notice it but things like the optical nerve, judgement, reason and processing are all hit by alcohol and what is needed to operate a vehicle safely...those.

    Gradiated levels? No thanks...I'd rather see and can't understand why this is such a problem for people...if you drink, don't drive.

  9. Timmy... here's another interesting topic you might consider bringing up with the fellow cops instead, and all of us should bring up with our governments/MPs:

    Who is most at risk of getting into a crash on the road and what are most likely the causes of it (no, it's not speeding)... and why in the world are we still seeing ridiculous speeding tickets and cash grab for someone who obviously falls within the "safe" category according to research:

  10. Anonymous;
    There is some really interesting information in that string. As we often see people defend speeding and always cite it as a cash grab. In my 20 years of policing I have never heard anyone say, "Hey go get more tickets because we need the revenue."

    The idea that tickets are a revenue generator goes to the States where many elected law enforcement personnel need to generate revenue to offset the cost of policing.

    That doesn't happen in Canada. The police and courts are not elected, so revenue generation plays no part.

    Traffic enforcement is based solely on road safety and the off shoots of road safety.

    No, not all or even the majority of crash's can be directly related to speed. The are many, many factors that go into a crash.

    I brought up the topic to my fellow officers. They said something very interesting. If you don't want a speeding ticket, don't speed. If you don't want to get a ticket for going through a red light, don't go through a red light. If you don't want to get arrested for impaired driving, don't drive impaired. INCREDIBLE LOGIC in those statements.

    There is a blog post in here somewhere...I know it.
    Thanks for the post and the link. Like I said, there is some good information in there.

  11. Calling a three day suspension a warning is like calling a collision an accident, I thought that term was being dropped.

    I think anyone receiving a three day suspension should also be given a personal breathalyser, and that bars should have them on hand. They are pretty cheap now.

    I have nothing against the lower limit but how bout a little more prevention and a little less ambiguous language? Instead of simply trying for the maximum number of tickets in a r.i.d.e check, put some extra officers in the parking lots and let people see if they are in the 'warn range' before they commit an offence.

    The way speed-traps and r.i.d.e. checks are setup creates the impression that officers are aiming for the maximum cash / convictions instead of impact on safety, etiquette, or fairness in road-use. Rightly or wrongly this influences driver attitudes to 'minor offences' and contributes to road rage.

    I'm sure many officers are all about road safety but it's hard to buy that as policy lately.