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CAQ votes against lowering Quebec's blood-alcohol limit to 0.05

Quebec rejects call to lower blood-alcohol limit
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CAQ MNAs have voted en bloc against the Liberal motion proposing to lower the blood alcohol level to 0.05.

The motion, led by Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) House Leader Monsef Derraji, was defeated on Thursday, 31 votes to 67.

Derraji wanted Quebec to follow the example of the other provinces and impose administrative penalties on drivers as soon as their blood alcohol level reaches 0.05. He pointed out that this was a Public Health recommendation.

Currently, in Canada, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 is a criminal offence. However, all Canadian provinces, with the exception of Quebec, impose administrative penalties at 0.05.

"In British Columbia, for example, thanks to this measure, there has been a 52 per cent drop in fatal accidents," said Derraji.

On Thursday, Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault argued that Quebec is among the toughest jurisdictions in Canada when it comes to impaired driving.

"We have the longest and most restrictive rehabilitation program, the toughest mandatory ignition interlock programme, the toughest vehicle seizures and zero tolerance for new drivers," she said.

According to Derraji, the Legault government lacks courage and finds itself isolated.

"Who is supporting the government in this decision today?" he asked in a news scrum. "If a lobby has arguments, I invite them to put them on the table."

QS and the PQ in favour

Québec Solidaire (QS) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) voted in favour of the Liberal motion.

"The objective (...) is to save lives and avoid unfortunate accidents. That's the objective of reducing it to 0.05," said QS co-spokesperson Émilise Lessard-Therrien at a news briefing.

The Abitibi native acknowledged that people who grab a drink in the regions have fewer public transport options, but this is all the more reason to develop the network, she said.

"It's just as dangerous to drive in Matane as it is in a major city," said PQ MNA Pascal Bérubé.

Guilbault pointed out that in the past, the Liberal government had the opportunity to lower the blood alcohol level to 0.05, but did not do so, to which the interim leader of the PLQ, Marc Tanguay, said: "I think we're there in 2024 in Quebec."

Last week, the PLQ joined Antoine Bittar and Elizabeth Rivera in calling for Quebec to impose administrative penalties, such as a temporary suspension of the driver's licence, from 0.05.

The couple -- who lost a child to a recidivist drunk driver -- caused a stir when they said they had to pay $200 to the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) to talk to Guilbault for two minutes about the ravages of drinking and driving.

They have since been reimbursed.

However, Guilbault has shown no sign of wanting to take advantage of the study of Bill 48, which aims to improve Quebec's road safety record, to lower the blood alcohol level to 0.05 (50 mg of alcohol/100 ml of blood). 

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 15, 2024. 

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