THE tide is turning on impaired driving. Tougher penalties, increased police enforcement and growing community abhorrence of drunk drivers has finally implanted the message that a habit this dangerous will no longer be tolerated.

In what is probably a first in Thunder Bay, not a single motorist was arrested for impaired driving on Super Bowl Sunday. A day and night devoted to house and bar parties is normally marked by pink slips and impounded vehicles at busy police RIDE checks.
This Sunday, police stopped 270 drivers and laid not one impaired charge. They did issue tickets for 11 other offences but it seems the drinkers have got the message that impaired operation of a motor vehicle is too big a risk given the likelihood of losing one’s licence and paying a lengthy insurance penalty.

On New Year’s Eve in Thunder Bay it was the same story — no impaired charges laid. Police did note the temperature was abysmal but that hasn’t stopped drunks from taking the wheel in previous years.

Throughout the 2013 Festive RIDE Campaign from Nov. 23 to Jan. 2 OPP laid 578 impaired driving charges and issued 481 warning suspensions across the province. By comparison, in 2012 police laid 693 impaired charges and issued 625 warning suspensions. There still are drunks driving but their ranks are thinning.

The service offered by Operation Red Nose is another helpful development. Volunteers drive Thunder Bayans home in their own cars, then join a driving partner to answer the next call.
Taxi companies are overwhelmed on special days but despite a shortage of drivers to meet demand, at least the demand is there from people trying to buy a ride home.

The laws against drinking and driving have been strengthened about every decade since 1920. Still, by 2008, drinking and driving cases comprised 12 per cent of all criminal charges in Canada, making it the largest single offenceº group. In 2008, it was estimated that 53,000 drinking and driving cases were heard every year in Canada.

The trend took a turn in 2009 when Ontario established some of the toughest laws in the world. Drivers who are caught with a blood alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.08 automatically lose their licence for 3, 7 or 30 days. Repeat offenders face tougher consequences. Effective 2010 all drivers aged 21 and under were subject to a 24-hour licence suspension if caught with ANY alcohol in their blood and if convicted, can face a 30-day licence suspension and up to a $500 fine.

It has taken many years of consistent legal and public service efforts to begin to convince drivers of their responsibility when it comes to alcohol. It appears those efforts are continuing to pay dividends in public safety.

Source: Chronicle Journal


Last updated on: 2014-02-15 | Link to this post