Student challenges alcohol ban for young drivers - Macleans.ca

Student challenges alcohol ban for young drivers

Proving the law is ‘unconstitutional’ may not be so easy

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Twenty-year-old University of Western Ontario student Kevin Wiener has challenged Ontario’s controversial new law, which prohibits drivers under 22 from consuming any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Wiener filed an application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, telling the Toronto Star, “As a young person, I don’t feel it’s fair for the government (to do this).”

“The Charter (of Rights and Freedoms) prohibits discrimination based on age,” he said.

That’s very true. But the Charter also guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it “only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified.” That little line may upset Wiener’s battle. Though it may not be “fair,” the necessity of such an “infringement,” so to speak, can be easily justified.

Statistics show that drivers under 22 are simply more likely to be involved in fatal drinking and driving collisions than older drivers. Furthermore, age is not a static group; everyone is under 22 at some point, and some studies, such as one by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, show that brain development of an area inhibiting risky behaviour is not fully formed until 25. But of course, that’s academic mumbo-jumbo. Too bad that’s just what the Ontario Superior court loves to hear.

Now, there is a compelling argument for extending the ban to all new drivers, which frankly, may be a fairer move, but let’s be real; with an impending provincial election, better to place restrictions on a demographic with the poorest showing at the polls. But I digress.

Though Wiener certainly faces an uphill battle, at least he’s going about it the right way. Remember, if all else fails, write to the UN.

-Photo by DOliphant