blood alcohol levels

Is having a cocktail or wine with dinner in danger?

By Jeni Marinucci

There are some changes brewing in the Canadian restaurant industry and as of now, few owners seem happy about it. Come to think of it, many patrons aren’t going to like it either. What could make each group equally as frustrated? Yes, it’s regarding alcohol rules and regulations.

This time around, it has to do with legal blood alcohol levels. While exactly no one is pressing for a no-holds barred blood alcohol level for people who may be driving, the new lower levels concern restaurant owners because of the potential for diminished consumption among diners.

From the CBC report:

In a letter sent to Quebec’s justice minister in May, federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said she is considering lowering the legal limit of blood-alcohol concentration to 0.05 per cent from 0.08. (The lower level translates to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.)

Joyce Reynolds is the executive vice president of Restaurants Canada and she points to some potential issues with the prospective change: “We don’t want to see people deterred from eating out and having a glass of wine with dinner.” She adds, that it could be “devastating to our industry.”

While the change is being touted as a move against drunk driving, the numbers (so far) don’t look promising: in a similar move in the province of British Columbia, restaurants there saw a 20 per cent decrease in alcohol sales, so the concern is valid for business owners.

Many hold that personal responsibility is just that – personal – when it comes to deciding to have a glass of wine or drink at dinner. CBC says that the federal justice minister has made no announcement on whether or not the changes will become legislation. Until then, restaurants wait, uncertain of what negative impact the potential drop in sales will mean for their bottom line.