Parties diverge on how to tackle drunk drivers with blood alcohol below .08

The Whitehorse chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving gets replies from three parties to questions about implementing rules it says will save Yukon lives.

NDP, Liberals support impoundments, licence suspensions; Yukon Party prefers education, fines

NDP and Liberals support MADD recommendations for vehicle impoundment and longer licence suspensions while Yukon Party prefers fines and education. (CBC)

The Yukon New Democratic and Liberal parties say they're supporting proposals that MADD Canada says have saved lives in other parts of Canada while the Yukon Party says it's still committed to education and fines as the best tools to deter drunk drivers, according to MADD's Whitehorse chapter.

Amanda Price, president of the Whitehorse chapter, says they're "ecstatic" with the responses the group received from the NDP and Liberals, and the response from the Yukon Party "is a step in the right direction."

The Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter sent out questionnaires to the three parties after the territorial election campaign began asking if they support vehicle impoundments, longer licence suspensions and other measures for drivers caught driving with between .05 and .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Criminal charges can be laid after .08 while provinces and territories make their own laws for the lower level BACs. Those measures are credited with reducing alcohol related crash deaths in B.C. by 54 per cent.

Price said she's pleased the three parties responded to the questionnaire.

Both the NDP and the Liberals support extending the current 24-hour suspension to seven days. They also support impounding vehicles for drivers with a BAC between .05 and .08.

Whitehorse MADD chapter president Amanda Price is pleased three parties responded to the questionnaire. (CBC)

The Yukon Party however says many Yukoners, especially in rural areas, depend on their vehicles for driving to work and transporting their children.

"We believe education on responsible consumption should not be done through impounding vehicles and suspending the licences of people who genuinely believe they are consuming alcohol responsibly – instead, we will support increased educational campaigns, and implement new fines for drivers who blow over 0.05 per cent," the Yukon Party said in its response to MADD.

The party's response adds it wants "to expand the availability of breathalyzer testing equipment in bars and restaurants to help people better understand the effect of alcohol consumption."

The Yukon Party did agree, as did the NDP, that there should be zero tolerance for drinking by drivers aged 21 and under. The Liberals gave qualified support, adding there should be a ban for all new drivers regardless of age.

Price says proposals to give police more powers would not take much more time than traffic tickets for officers to process. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Price said she hopes the Yukon Party will eventually commit to taking further action, adding that stronger measures such as the impoundment of vehicles has been proven to change drivers' behaviour.

"If people are concerned about having their vehicle to go and get groceries and transport their children, if they're fearful of getting an impaired, they shouldn't drive," Price said.

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