Chaouki Hamka from MADD talks about a map showing where police in Windsor have laid charges for impaired driving at the Windsor Star News Cafe in Windsor on Tuesday, December 30, 2014.

To save $30 on a cab you could end up paying more than $1,000 — or with your life.

That’s the message MADD Canada wants to make clear as people plan for their annual New Year’s Eve celebrations.

“When people tell you they don’t want to leave their car downtown because they don’t want to pay for a ticket, for example, or they don’t want to pay for a cab, it’s too far, I always tell them let’s look at it this way,” said Chaouki Hamka, community leader for MADD Windsor & Essex County.

“Taking a chance to drive impaired is very selfish,” he said. “Not realizing that if you do get caught, that’s going to cost you a lot more. Not only is it going to cost you financially, but there’s the chance of you injuring somebody or killing somebody, including yourself. So for you to cough up $30-$35, let’s say even $100 for a cab, $100 is still a lot better than you spending time in jail, paying lawyer fees, and potentially injuring somebody, including yourself.”

Over the past five years, the Windsor Police Service has laid more than 1,600 charges for impaired driving offences in the city, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information request. More than 200 of those were for the refusal of a breathalyzer.

Those charges have been laid all over the city, many clustered downtown near Riverside and Ouellette and along main routes out of the downtown core such as on Ouellette, Tecumseh, Huron Church and Walker roads.

Hamka said the wide number of locations is a sign that the police are doing their job and that more people are making the call to 911 when they see evidence of an impaired driver.

“They’re all connected to downtown,” he said. “Whichever way people are taking, there’s no escape route. There’s always a police presence within those major intersections and major areas, whether west, east, south, north.”

Understanding your drinking limits

Hamka said the challenge with reducing impaired driving is that many people don’t have a plan prior to heading out for the night. That leaves them making important judgment calls while in an impaired state.

“I think a lot of people think that means I’m OK to drive because I don’t feel drunk. Unfortunately when you’re in a vehicle, your reaction time is a lot slower under the influence of drugs and alcohol,” he said.

Blood alcohol content can vary depending on the type of drink consumed, body type and size, gender, food consumption and whether the person is tired. Hamka said there are also misconceptions about how much it takes for someone to become impaired.

“For example you go out downtown. It’s 12 o’clock. You say, you know what, I have to leave in a couple of hours, I’m going to stop drinking. In their right mind, they’re trying to be responsible, which is great,” he said. “But they’re not realizing their blood alcohol content doesn’t start going down. Their blood alcohol content is actually still going up. Or they start drinking water. But water doesn’t help you. It just hydrates you. It doesn’t lower your BAC.”

Hamka said the best way to stay safe on New Year’s Eve is to have a plan before heading out — either a ride home from someone who won’t be drinking, some money for a cab, or a place to crash for the night before getting in the car.

Buses on New Year’s Eve

About a decade ago, there were shuttle buses from downtown around bar closing times to promote safe rides home. Those were sponsored by a private company, but the usage was poor so the service was shut down.

Pat Delmore, director at Transit Windsor, said those shuttle services are costly and don’t often figure into the Transit Windsor budget approved by city council. The shuttle on the night of the fireworks in the spring, for example, is sponsored by Zehrs.

Transit Windsor runs regular weekday bus service on New Year’s Eve. The latest buses will finish their routes around 12:30 a.m. Delmore said people who don’t plan to stay out too late can call 311 or Transit Windsor for information on routes.

Hamka said MADD would like to discuss creating more shuttle or busing options, but that the funding and routes can get tricky.

“A late night shuttle would be pretty expensive,” Delmore said.

Facts about impaired driving prevention:

-In France, every motorist is required to carry a portable breathalyzer.

-Each year Windsor police charge about 250 people with impaired driving.

-If drivers are caught within the warn range (0.05 to 0.08 blood alcohol content) they face a $150 penalty and a three-day license suspension

-If drivers are caught with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08 they face a $1,000 fine plus the $150 penalty, a one-year license suspension and a requirement to join treatment programs

-Between 1,250 and 1,500 people are killed each year from crashes involving impaired drivers, according to MADD Canada

The most common days impaired driving charges were laid since 2008:

  • Jan. 19: 17
  • March 7: 12
  • April 30: 12
  • May 25: 12
  • April 07: 11
  • Oct. 18: 11
  • Jan. 21: 10
  • Feb. 3: 10
  • May 31: 10
  • Nov. 25: 10

The charges laid by Windsor police since 2008:

  • Failure to provide a sample (drugs): 3
  • Failure to provide a blood sample (alcohol): 10
  • Failure to provide a breath sample (alcohol): 206
  • Impaired: 689
  • Impaired causing death (alcohol): 3
  • Impaired operation of a vehicle (drugs): 20
  • Impaired operation of a vehicle (alcohol): 12
  • Operating a vehicle over .80: 715

Source: Windsor Star


Last updated on: 2015-01-09 | Link to this post