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POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 59 We do, however, have a national strategy. The Strategy to Reduce Impaired Driving (STRID) is a joint initiative by federal, provincial and territorial governments as well as road safety organizations including the Canada Safety Council. STRID is an initiative of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA), which receives its mandate from the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety. Since it began in 1990, STRID has provided leadership for all jurisdictions in the fight against impaired driving. All jurisdictions are united in the fight against drinking and driving. Specific sanctions for drinking drivers vary from one part of the country to another, but in all cases they are strict. Jurisdiction The federal government has authority for the Criminal Code of Canada. Impaired driving is considered a crime because of the risk of death and injury related to alcohol consumption by drivers. Canada has, for example, criminalized driving or care and control of a vehicle with BACs exceeding 0.08. As a matter of constitutional law, this prevents provinces and territories from creating offences relating directly to BAC levels and to fine or jail drivers who exceed those limits; such offences fall under the Criminal Code. Provincial and territorial legislation related to drinking and driving comes from the authority to enact laws relating to property and civil rights, which includes the right to regulate driving on provincial roads. Provincial and territorial jurisdictions can legislate permissible levels of BAC for the purpose of imposing administrative licence suspensions, but not for the purpose of creating ʻoffences.ʼ Through their highway traffic acts, these jurisdictions use their licensing authority to suspend drivers who exceed provincially or federally established BAC limits (PDF). Every jurisdiction in Canada has enacted legislation related to drinking and driving, short of creating offences. Provinces impose licence suspensions for drivers convicted of criminal blood alcohol offences, and most impose temporary suspensions at BACs below the criminal level of 0.08. All Canadian jurisdictions except the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have a zero BAC for novice drivers. For ordinary drivers, most provinces in Canada make it impermissible (but not a criminal offence) to operate or have care or control of a motor vehicle at levels around 0.05. However, many Canadians are not aware of these measures. The TIRF survey found less than half of respondents knew there was a lower alcohol limit in their province at which police can suspend driving privileges; only six per cent of all respondents knew what that limit is. While provincial and territorial jurisdictions cannot create offences relating to BAC levels, they do have power to impose administrative licence suspensions. Police officers can carry out these licence suspensions at the side of the road, protecting the public by a swift and certain response. Among the 13 provinces or territories of Canada, only Quebec and the Yukon do not have licence suspensions for drinking drivers with BACs lower than 0.08. Penalties The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reports that fines were the most common penalty imposed for impaired driving offences in 2001/02. In about 77 per cent of cases a fine was the ʻmost seriousʼ sentence. However, provincial and territorial sanctions supplement the Criminal Code and often have more serious personal consequences than a fine. The mere fact of having a criminal conviction carries a lifelong stigma that can limit job and travel opportunities. Offenders were sentenced to prison in 14 per cent of cases. The average length of a prison sentence for cases of impaired driving was 73 days. Prison sentences varied considerably across the country. For instance, in Prince Edward Island, 91 per cent of those convicted of impaired driving received a prison sentence, compared with only four per cent in Nova Scotia. However, provinces which imposed imprisonment more often also tended to use shorter sentences. For example, in Prince Edward Island the average sentence length was 17 days, while in Nova Scotia it was 182 days. continued... (...Drunk Driving - Progress and Problems continued)

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