Albertans who drink too much before driving are now facing new rules.

Starting Saturday, drivers who blow a blood alcohol level between .05 and .08 will lose their licences and vehicles for three days.

"For people that either will not or cannot follow the rules, then the ultimate outcome of that is not being able to drive anymore," said Transportation Minister Ric McIver.

"We consider it better than the alternative of having a free-for-all and more people killed on the roads."

Starting September 1, the penalties for blowing between 0.05 and 0.08 will become:

  • First offence: Immediate 3-day licence suspension and 3-day vehicle seizure

 

  • Second offence: Immediate 15-day licence suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, one-day driving course

 

  • Third offence: Immediate 30-day licence suspension, 7-day vehicle seizure, weekend-long "live-in" treatment course

Previously, the penalty for having a blood alcohol level in that range was a 24-hour licence suspension.

McIver says the new law strikes a balance between safety and a vibrant hospitality industry.

Opposition members, like Wildrose Justice critic Shayne Saskiw, say the province should be dealing with drunk driving deaths, but the new legislation isn’t the right way to do it.

"We should be increasing the front-line enforcement, getting more officers at CheckStops and going after those repeat drunk drivers who are a threat to our families," Saskiw told the Canadian Press.

"We don't need more public relations exercises. We need more front-line officers."

McIver says the new law is tougher on repeat offenders and that the new focus on drivers with less alcohol in their system will make the roads safer.

"For those that are trying to claim -- and I think principally the opposition, frankly, that there's no harm done by drivers under .08, that is just incredibly untrue and they know better and I wish they would stop disseminating false information," McIver said.

 

With files from The Canadian Press.