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Alcohol: the ubiquitous risk factor
  1. I B Pless, Editor

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    This issue includes four papers that draw attention to one of the most important causes of injury in all age groups and in every part of the world—alcohol. In particular, the papers address impaired drivers. The first is an original article pointing to the benefits of laws that penalize drivers whose blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds 0.08% by weight (p 109). In view of the growing evidence to which this paper adds substantially, it is difficult to understand why so many constituencies tolerate higher limits. It is even more difficult to fathom why, whatever the limits, more impaired drivers are not apprehended or, when they are, why they are not punished more severely.

    These issues are addressed in the second paper—one that we hope will be the first of many written by from a lawyer's perspective (p 96). The senior author, Robert Solomon, is the legal advisor to the Canadian branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Although the statistics in this paper only reflect the experience in one province, my guess is that the issues these data point to are commonplace, not only elsewhere in Canada but also world wide. In spite of limitations in the data system itself, the findings clearly point to serious flaws in how both the police and the legal system address impaired driving. Set aside the legal subtleties and look at the larger picture …

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