Florence Higgins lost two sisters in an impaired driving collision in the 1980s and has been working with MADD to educate people on the risks of driving drunk to prevent similar incidents.

A series of mid-afternoon arrests in western Newfoundland this past weekend is proof that impaired driving is still a scourge, RCMP say.

Const. Matt Christie says it's frustrating that education and enforcement efforts have been ongoing for many years, yet one third of all highway fatalities in Canada involve an impaired driver.

"It still is a big issue and it's something we need to tackle," said Christie.

There were two separate arrests on Saturday afternoon, including one incident in Stephenville that occurred just after a parade organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) had passed by.

Police say a 34-year-old resident of Burgeo left a local drinking establishment in his vehicle and ran over a guardrail. A breath sample revealed his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Florence Higgins, treasurer and past president of the Bay St. George chapter of MADD, said the incident proves people still aren't taking in all the awareness and education available about impaired driving.

"I just don't understand people. We have so much awareness and education and everything and people don't realize what they're doing — to themselves, to the public," she told CBC's CrossTalk Monday afternoon.

"On average there's four people killed, almost 197 more injures every day in Canada and it's all totally, totally preventable."

According to Higgins, impaired driving had a devastating impact on her own life and she wants to prevent the same thing from happening to other families.

"It's very personal. I had two sisters who were killed by an impaired driver in 1981. They got a ride with a friend who said he wasn't impaired and both of them were killed," she said.

"My sister Julia was 16 and my sister Mary was 17 at the time."

However, Higgins said she doesn't think it's possible to get every impaired driver off the road, but there's definitely ways to get people to see sense.

Tragedies avoided

Less than an hour after the incident in Stephenville, a 43-year-old man was arrested and charged after driving his vehicle off the road in Mattis Point. Again, his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.


A third incident occurred in Pasadena on Sunday afternoon, also during the early afternoon.

A 67-year-old Pasadena man was arrested after two retired police officers witnessed him driving a vehicle erratically.

Police say this incident was especially troubling because there were children in the area.

The man refused to provide a breath sample, and had open liquor in his vehicle.

"This very easily could have been tragic,"  Christie told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

Meanwhile, police in the Bay d'Espoir area arrested a driver on Sunday evening after an officer saw her stumble after getting out of her car. 

Police said the woman, 36, blew almost four times the legal blood-alcohol limit. She was held in custody until she sobered up. 

Remorseful about getting caught

The timing of these three mid-afternoon incidents is noteworthy, but not unexpected.

Christie said he has encountered impaired drivers at all hours.

What's even more troubling, he said, is that offenders seem more remorseful about getting caught than the possible danger they pose to themselves and others.

Christie said a generation of Canadians have now grown up in a culture with robust impaired driving laws and extensive education programs, but the problem persists.

He said the best defence against impaired driving is public support.

He encouraged anyone who witnesses a case of possible impaired driving to call the police and provide as much information as possible about the vehicle and driver.

Source: CBC News Newfoundland & Labrador

Last updated on: 2015-06-30 | Link to this post