Edmonton, Alberta – Members of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) have raised objections to portions of Bill 26, Alberta’s new drinking and driving legislation, saying that it “targets the wrong people.”

The CRFA said it has received more than 2,000 petitions from Alberta business owners, their employees and customers.

“CRFA fully supports tougher penalties for drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08, as well as graduated licensing,” said Garth Whyte, president and CEO of the CRFA. “What we don’t support are the stricter penalties for drivers with a BAC from .05 (to) .08. This piece of the legislation affects responsible drivers who are not legally impaired, and is unnecessarily confusing and intimidating to ordinary Albertans.”

The association said that the tougher penalties for drivers with a BAC between .05 and .08 will unintentionally hurt the restaurant industry and responsible Albertans. When similar strict laws were introduced in British Columbia, a CRFA survey found that sales at licensed restaurants and bars fell 21 per cent and jobs were lost.

“We need solutions that get drunk drivers off the roads without harassing the average Albertan,” Whyte said. “If the petitions flooding our office are any indication, this is what Albertans want too. Government should focus its resources on those drivers who are well over the legal limit and cause most alcohol-related accidents, instead of going after law-abiding citizens who drink responsibly.”

Statistics show that impaired drivers in Alberta who are over the legal limit of .08 BAC are responsible for 86 per cent of alcohol-related crashes and fatalities, while two-thirds of such incidents are caused by impaired drivers at twice the legal limit, and those who repeatedly drive while legally impaired.

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