Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
J Stud Alcohol. 2004 Jul;65(4):450-9.

The criminalization of impaired driving in Canada: assessing the deterrent impact of Canada's first per se law.

Author information

  • 1Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, 5790 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 1V7, Canada. Mark.Asbridge@dal.ca



The goal of this article is to assess the effectiveness of Canada's first per se law criminalizing driving with a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.08%, the Breathalyser Law introduced in 1969, in reducing drinking-driver-related fatalities. We also examine the long-term deterrent effect of this law on driver fatality rates. In the analyses we include such potentially confounding influences on drinking-driver fatality rates as the founding of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Canada; the introduction of Ontario's mandatory seatbelt law; per capita alcohol consumption; the unemployment rate; vehicles registered per capita; and precipitation rates.


Interrupted time series analysis with auto-regressive integrated moving average modeling was applied to the annual number of motor vehicle driver fatalities in Ontario for the period 1962-1996 to examine drinking- and nondrinking-driver fatalities.


A significant intervention effect was found for the Breathalyser Law in Ontario, which was associated with an estimated reduction of 18% in the number of fatally injured drinking drivers. No corresponding effect was observed for nondrinking-driver fatalities. Per capita alcohol consumption was positively associated with drinking-driver fatalities; Ontario's mandatory seatbelt law was linked to nondrinking-driver fatalities; and the formation of MADD, Canada, was strongly associated with drinking- and nondrinking-driver fatalities.


These data provide evidence that Canada's per se law had a specific deterrent effect that resulted in a reduction in drinking-driver fatalities. A long-term deterrent effect was also observed, which is in contrast to the early policy literature on impaired driving.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Dartmouth Journal Services
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk