Most provinces offer drivers a chance to buy special licence plates, veterans for example.

But if Prince Edward Island's transportation minister has his way, some drivers will be forced to use plates with a dubious cachet. They'll be publicly marked as convicted drunk drivers.

The proposal is part of a wholesale revamping of the island province's licence-plate system, consolidating the five existing designs into one.

"That's something we're still in discussions about right now," P.E.I. Transportation Minister Robert Vessey told CBC News. "It's still something I'm thinking on. We've been talking to law enforcements about it."

Vessey first raised the idea last year after figures revealed P.E.I. had more impaired-driving incidents per capita than any of the other Atlantic provinces, CBC News said.

The minister said at the time he envisioned issuing convicted impaired drivers with pink, red or blue plates, or perhaps adding a special letter to their plates or even a decal on the windshield, the Globe and Mail reported back in December. The objective, said Vessey, was not to publicly shame drunk drivers but serve as a warning to others who might drink and drive.

“It’s just another thing if you’re planning on having a few drinks, if you’re going to jump behind your wheel, it’s just something to think about,” he told the Globe.

Yukon legislature member Darius Elias has also proposed the northern territory slap special plates on drunk drivers with more than one conviction, the Yukon News reported in April.

“Nobody wants to have a bright pink or yellow licence plate on their vehicle saying that they’ve been charged with impaired twice,” said Elias.

But civil libertarians are bridling at the idea of forcing convicted drunk drivers to wear the automotive equivalent of a scarlet letter.

Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, told the National Post the idea was “ill-conceived” and could face a constitutional challenge.

“The Canadian Civil Liberties Association does have concern about such a branding and public humiliation that is a bit reminiscent of 19th century punishment,” Des Rosiers, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Ottawa., told the Post.

If you mark impaired drivers, why not reckless drivers or speeders, or those who text and drive, she asked.

“This is not the right way of dealing with driving under the influence," Des Rosiers said.

The head of MADD Canada, the anti-impaired driving lobby, said Vessey has already visited U.S. jurisdictions that issue special plates to drunk drivers. Andrew Murie told the Post the idea does carry an element of shaming, including other family members who might drive the vehicle.

“If you’re just going to shame, there’s no sense to that,” he said, adding he's discussed the idea with the minister numerous times. “But if there’s evidence behind it … then it’s worth a look.”

Several U.S. states issue special plates or stickers for motorists convicted of impaired driving more than once, and more have tabled legislation to introduce them.

Murie said MADD hasn't seen evidence such plates work to deter drinking and driving but they might be effective in a relatively small jurisdiction like P.E.I.

“The islanders tend to know who everyone is, and a bit more, police’s interaction with people is better,” he told the Post “If it had the potential to work and be effective, it would be there.”

Murie said police would not be able to pull over such specially designated vehicles without cause but would give them a "heads up."

RELATED STORY: PEI Drunk Drivers’ Vehicles could get special plates


Source: Yahoo News Canada


Last updated on: 2013-07-16 | Link to this post