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Canada number one for the wrong reason

Of all the wealthy first-world countries, Canada is at the top of the list for the percentage of highway fatalities with links to alcohol intoxication, a study done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

The national legal director for the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who is also a law professor at Western University, stated that the abysmal placement reflects "the dumbest impaired-driving laws on the face of the planet."

The national president of MADD considers it to be a heartbreaking reminder of losing her own son at 20 due to a drunken driver eight years ago. She reflects on the work that is still needed to be done in order to decrease the impact of driving while impaired all over Canada.

In its report, the CDC studied data from both the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Health Organization about the use of seat belts, speeding and the percentage of highway fatalities attributed to drivers impaired by alcohol.

Canada topped the list, showing alcohol impairment was involved in over 33 per cent of vehicle deaths. The figure was a bit higher than the approximately 31 per cent shared by Slovenia, Australia, the United States and New Zealand. The average rate for comparable nations was only 19 per cent, with Israel having the lowest rate of 3.2 per cent.

There have been positive changes, such as legislation in the provinces that implemented specials programs for younger drivers, graduated licensing, additional administrative suspensions of drivers licences and mandates for zero blood alcohol levels for those drivers under 21.

The difference, Solomon said, is that most developed countries have taken two legislative reforms in recent decades that produced demonstrable results.

Under current Canadian laws, police are authorized at all times to stop drivers to check for licences, ownership and insurance, but cannot demand a breath test unless they have reasonable suspicion that the driver was drinking.

At present, police can pull motorists over at any time to ask for ownership, licence and insurance. But they can't ask for a breath sample without reasonable grounds to suspect a driver has been drinking.

If you get arrested on drunk driving charges, you should mount a fierce defence from the outset to forestall a conviction that can mar your driving record.

Source: The Hamilton Spectator, "Canada worst in developed world for drunk-driving deaths," Jim Coyle, July 25, 2016

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