Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Drinking & Driving may applaud the Alberta Government for introducing tougher penalties for drunk driving.

However, the government should have gone even further, with a three-strikes-and-you’re-out approach.

Last week, the government announced tougher penalties would be introduced starting July 1. They are targeted at criminally impaired drivers and drinking drivers with a graduated licence.

As before, a driver with a blood alcohol concentration over .08 will be charged under the Criminal Code. However, beginning July 1, the driver will also receive an immediate licence suspension. It will remain in place until the criminal charge is resolved. The driver’s vehicle will also be seized and, once convicted, the driver will be required to use an ignition interlock device.

Someone with a graduated driver’s licence will face stronger penalties if they consume any alcohol and drive. They will receive an immediate 30-day licence suspension and a seven-day vehicle seizure. The changes to penalties, which have been in place since 1999, for drivers with a BAC between .05 and .08, will come into effect Sept. 1.

Some people may say tougher penalties won’t stop repeat offenders from continuing to drink and drive. They may also say the penalties unfairly target those with graduated drivers' licences. But I would dismiss their viewpoints outright.

I would go further than the changes that the government will implement. For the first offence of drunk driving, the driver should have their licence revoked permanently. For the second offence, it should be an automatic 10-year jail sentence, with no possibility of early release. If they’re caught a third time, then they should go to prison for life. Three strikes and you’re out. It’s pure and simple.

As for the drunk driver who kills or injures other people, they too should automatically get a life sentence - and with no possibility of release. Ever.

Are these measures harsh? No. It’s simply the end process to ensure upcoming and habitual drunk drivers receive the punivite punishment they deserve. Their choice not to use a designated driver must be condemned.However, the data from their sobriety test must stand in court, or the charge/conviction gets dropped.

Granted, the prisons would become filled with more convicted felons, with a proportional increase in the cost of operating them. Alternatively, build and designate prisons specifically for drunk drivers. Such is the price to pay, to protect the public from people whose behaviour is so self-destructive and which often results in tragedy.

While I do not drink, I tolerate others’ alcohol consumption because Prohibition in the U.S. proved people would get their alcohol no matter what laws were on the books. Moreover, many people can handle alcohol responsibly. Yet, my tolerance does not extend to first-time and habitual drunk drivers. They deserve the measures I described above, because they have proven they cannot handle alcohol responsibly.

In the end, drunk driving is a black-and-white issue. It is not a matter of degrees or ambiguity. So, make the punishment equal to their crime.

Source: Smoky River Express

Mac Olsen



Last updated on: 2012-07-13 | Link to this post