Canada has had a long history of combating drinking and driving. When 'driving while intoxicated' became a summary offence under the Criminal Code in 1921, the laws were not as strict as they are today because back then, people who were found guilty of driving while intoxicated were "subject to a term not exceeding thirty days and not less than seven days for a first offence, for a term not exceeding three months and not less than one month, for a second offence, and for each subsequent offence for a term not exceeding one year and not less than three months." (Koles, 2003)
In 1969, there was a repeal of the offence of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and the creation of the offence of driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of more than 80mg/100ml of blood as a summary conviction offence. During the 1980's, there was a significant increase in the number of people drinking and driving. The result was a promotion of education and awareness programs and the use of treatment facilities. In 1985, amendments were made to the drinking and driving laws which created new offences for impaired driving causing bodily harm "with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and impaired driving causing death with a maximum punishment of 14 years in prison." (Department of Justice, 2000) As well, these amendments "increased the minimum mandatory punishment for impaired driving, driving with a BAC over 0.08 and refusing to provide a breath sample to $300 for a first offence, maintained 14 days imprisonment for a second offence and 90 days imprisonment for a subsequent offence." (Department of Justice, 2000) There was also the "establishment of a mandatory minimum driving prohibition of 3 months (first offence), 6 months (second offence) and one year (subsequent offences) as well as a maximum 10 year prohibition from driving following a conviction for impaired driving causing bodily harm or death." (Department of Justice, 2000)
A study by Simpson and Associates showed that in 1994 drinking and driving decreased significantly in Canada. The results revealed: "(1) there was a substantial decrease of about 30% in the proportion of impaired drivers detected in random nighttime roadside surveys; (2) the percent of fatally injured drivers who were impaired (BAC larger than 80 mg%) also declined by about 30%; and (3) there was a 40% decrease in the number of drinking drivers injured in road crashes." (Simpson et al.)
In 2000, Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-18 which "raised the maximum sentence for impaired driving causing bodily harm from 14 years to life, added drug detection to the blood-sampling warrant provision, and removed driving while disqualified from the list of offences within the absolute jurisdiction of a provincial court judge."
Unfortunately, drinking and driving is still a serious problem that plaques Canadian society. In the University of British Columbia Applied Research and Evaluation Service's report, 'Estimating the Presence of Alcohol and Drug Impairment in Traffic Crashes and Their Costs to Canadians,' "in 2006, it was estimated that 3,122 individuals were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Canada."
Canada has made great strides in enacting strict laws for people who drink and drive. The best way to eliminate drinking and driving is through education and taking personal responsibility for one's own actions.
Statistical Data Source: Canadian Criminal Justice Association