Albertans have a lot to be proud of. Whether it’s the province’s beautiful scenery, some of the highest quality health care and education anywhere in Canada, or its bustling economy, residents have plenty of reasons to sing the praises of their home province.

Yet in one area Alberta is anything but a shining example for the rest of Canada – and that area is drunk driving.

According to recently released Statistics Canada figures, Albertans are 70 per cent more likely to be caught driving under the influence of alcohol than other Canadians.

At the same time, persons charged with drunk driving in Alberta are less likely to be convicted or sent to jail if they are convicted. Nationally, 84 per cent of those charged are found guilty – in Alberta that rate is 81 per cent.

Statistics Canada also says that rural drivers remain twice as likely to be charged with impaired driving as their city counterparts.

“It’s disappointing to see it rise, despite all the efforts at education and awareness,” said Wayne Kauffeldt, a national director with MADD.

It certainly is disappointing that many, many Albertans continue to believe that it is their right to drive drunk whenever and wherever they please.

And it’s equally disappointing to know that the courts in Alberta are much less successful than other courts in Canada in keeping those drunks off the roads.

Two recent West Central Alberta cases show exactly where the situation in this province stands today:

A drunk driver goes through a red light in Red Deer and kills the mother and father of five young children. He serves 16 months and has now been released on parole.

A drunk driver kills four people in a crash near Innisfail. He is sentenced to less than seven years in prison, and with good behaviour could be released long before 2020.

In both cases, had the drunk drivers used guns or knives instead of cars to kill their victims they may have faced very lengthy prison terms. Instead, they receive very lenient sentences and other drunk drivers get the message loud and clear: Don’t worry, this is Alberta, where anything goes.

Is it any wonder that the families of Alberta drunk driving victims are outraged and disappointed with the punishments meted out to the guilty? Can anyone blame them?

Many Albertans rightly believe that this province is one of the best places to live in Canada. Unfortunately, thanks to drunk drivers, it also remains a very, very dangerous place for innocent people to go about their lawful activities on the province’s roads and highways.

Source: MADD Canada


Last updated on: 2013-01-28 | Link to this post