01/24/2012 06:23 EST | Updated 03/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Alberta premier says tough drunk driving law needs consultation with industry

CALGARY - It's unclear when Alberta's new tougher drunk-driving legislation that allows police to immediately suspend the licence of anyone caught driving with a blood-alcohol content over .05 will actually become law.

Bill 26 was passed by the Alberta legislature in December and gives police more power to curb drunk drivers.

The legislation allows police to suspend licences for 30 days and impound vehicles for up to seven days if motorists are found with a blood-alcohol level over .05, but less than .08.

It reserves the strongest penalties for repeat offenders and those who have a blood-alcohol level over .08, which is the legal limit under the Criminal Code..

Premier Alison Redford told reporters Tuesday that she's not exactly sure when the bill will be proclaimed.

"I guess that will depend on the extent of the consultation the minister (of transportation) has with bar industry and when I call the election," said Redford.

Redford said her government made it clear in December that it wanted to discuss the implementation of the legislation with the bar and restaurant industry before it became law.

"What we said was the minister of transportation would spend some time working with industry to ensure that before the law was proclaimed that we had taken care of issues that industry had with respect to whether or not they wanted to have technology in their facilities that might assist clients," added Redford.

She said there is some indication that many bar owners are interested in installing technology such as breathalysers to help their patrons figure out their blood-alcohol levels.

"That seems to be something that they feel would be helpful and if they want some time to do that then I'm certainly prepared to give them that."

The industry had been vocal in opposing the legislation.

The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association launched an online petition urging the government to rethink its position.

"Everyone in the hospitality industry wants to get drunk drivers off Alberta roads; we all have families, live in communities and actively seek this outcome," says the petition.

"I want to ensure that proposals brought forward by government are appropriately targeted to drunk drivers, not ordinary Albertans who may occasionally enjoy a social drink with family or friends."