If you’re charged with impaired driving in certain parts of the country, be prepared to have that record made readily available.

Police are using so-called “name and shame” tactics, sharing lists of people charged with drunk driving, in an attempt at deterrence. But there is a lack of evidence it works, says an anti-drunk driving advocate.

The names of anyone charged with impaired driving are available on court records and therefore technically public, but some police forces are making it easier to find that information by publishing online news releases compiling the names.

For the past decade, Winnipeg Police have published names of people charged during the month of December, in connection with annual holiday check-points.

“It coincides with our extra enforcement and education focus we do during the holiday season,” Const. Stephane Fontaine, impaired driving countermeasures coordinator for the Winnipeg Police, told Yahoo Canada News. “I could be doing it the whole year, but we want it to be effective as a deterrent, given all the media attention we get over the holiday season.”

If the list was posted year-round, media would lose interest, he said.

Fontaine admits that in his six years working with the program, he hasn’t seen fluctuation in either direction. “Seems like the numbers are pretty steady, year after year,” he said.

Sometimes, these programs stem from community activism.

Sudbury started naming people charged with impaired driving in 2012, after the mothers of three teens killed in a drunk driving accident launched IMPACT 6/21, to raise awareness of the issue.

Kaitlyn Dunn, with the Greater Sudbury Police Service, said in an email that the program was “a product of discussions with community groups.”

“This is but one aspect of our overall education and awareness campaign that we trust is making a difference in road safety in our community,” she said.

The Niagara Regional Police Service in Ontario refers to their program as the Impaired List, launched in 2013. Since then, 2,038 people have been arrested and charged with impaired driving.

In an emailed statement to Yahoo Canada News, Const. Virginia Moir said the list informs and empowers the community.

“A member of the public may see a neighbour driving that was recently on the impaired list and will know that he/she is currently under licence suspension due to that charge,” she said. “This empowers the individual to report the driving to the police.”

She adds that it also allows an employer to know if their workers were recently charged and possibly not legally allowed to operate a vehicle.

Andrew Murie, CEO of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving Canada, said programs like this have existed for decades. It’s not uncommon, for example, for community papers to publish a list of people charged with impaired driving during the holidays.

However, he said his organization doesn’t have research that examines whether these campaigns are effective.

“What it usually is, is a community, a police chief or a news outlet that believe that if only one person is impacted by these names being published, then that’s a contribution to the fight against impaired driving,” he said. “We support that. But we don’t recommend it as one of the vast policies a community can do to stop impaired driving.”

Murie added that a powerful tool is posting signs instructing people to call police when they see a suspected impaired driver.

“When communities do that, there’s about an 80 per cent increase in charges,” he said, noting that 70 per cent of monthly arrests in Halifax come from public tips. “When you look at effective community programs, those are the kinds we support.”

Source: Yahoo News


Last updated on: 2017-01-26 | Link to this post