MADD also seeking changes to federal impaired driving laws

While the P.E.I. government has been a leader in the fight against drinking and driving, says MADD Canada CEO Andy Murie, he says there is one more thing the province could do.

Currently, under the P.E.I. Highway Traffic Act, drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 lose their drivers' licence for seven days. Murie would like P.E.I. to follow western provinces that also impound people's cars for a week. He said this has reduced the number of impaired driving deaths. 

"In British Columbia and Alberta they've experienced 50 and 46 per cent reduction in deaths, so we know that works," he said.

"We're hoping, in the near future, Prince Edward Island takes a good look at that."

Murie said Saskatchewan has just added this change as well.

Federal changes suggested

MADD is also looking for Ottawa to make changes so that more drivers are tested to see if they are impaired.

Currently, police can only demand a breathalyzer if there's a reasonable suspicion a driver has been drinking. Murie is urging Ottawa to bring in mandatory alcohol screening at roadside checks.

"This has been in place throughout the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, in fact Australia's had it since the 1980s," he said.

"In one year it'll make about a 25 per cent reduction in impaired driving deaths across Canada, and save government, the justice [system], hospitals, about $4 billion in the first year of implementation."

Murie said one of the county's leading constitutional lawyers believes mandatory breathalyzers would  stand up against a Charter challenge. This recommendation was made to the federal government in 2009 by a parliamentary committee, but Murie said the Harper government has not moved forward with it.

MADD is also concerned with the rules regarding serious accidents, saying many drunk drivers involved in accidents aren't being charged.

Doctors and paramedics used to be able to tell police when they suspected a driver had been drinking, but Murie said under privacy laws he says that's no longer possible.

"There's no reason the people that commit the most serious impaired driving crashes, which involve death and injury, get to get out of jail free," he said.

"The doctors or the ambulance people used to say to police 'You know what, you need to get a warrant because this person has been drinking. We can smell it on them.' But now with the new privacy laws paramedics, doctors can no longer give information to police."

Murie said without that information police don't have reasonable suspicion to get a warrant for a breathalyzer or blood test. He believes if alcohol testing were mandatory after serious accidents more drunk drivers would be caught.

In a response to CBC, the federal Justice minister's office says "The Government understands more can be done to strengthen the Criminal Code with respect to repeat offenders and those convicted of impaired driving causing death."

The statement goes on to say proposed measures to strengthen Canada's existing impaired driving laws are pending. 

Source: CBC News


Last updated on: 2014-09-12 | Link to this post