Last week the RNC Patrol picked up 32-year-old a man for drunk driving. The man refused a breathalyzer test (as was his right) and was released with a pending court date.
He was arrested for DUI again – 6 hours later. This time he was put in jail for a night.
So, what happened? And what does it tell us?
First of all, according to Newfoundland’s DUI laws the first arrest would have resulted in an automatic 24-hour licence suspension. So the driver should not have been behind the wheel after that arrest.
The second arrest, even without the drunkenness charge, would result in vehicle impoundment: Newfoundland impounds the vehicles of any driver found driving without a licence. The impoundment last 30 days.
But what this case illustrates so dramatically is the idea that licence suspensions don’t work. All too many drivers arrested for DUI end up ignoring suspensions and driving, and that includes those, like this gentleman, who have a tendency to drink and drive.
In its 2015 Provincial Impaired Driving Report, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada gave Newfoundland and Labrador a grade of F+ for its anti-drunk driving efforts. Among the reasons for such a low rating:
- No mandatory ignition interlock program for DUI offenders
- No mandatory vehicle impoundment for first Administrative Licence Suspension (ALS)
Had the mandatory impoundment been in place for a first offense, our man wouldn’t have been able to hop behind the wheel, still drunk, six hours after his first arrest.
But what this event really tells us – once again – is that alcohol is a thief of good judgment. The very stuff that makes one unable to drive reliably also makes it tough to decide not to drive. That is the reason that MADD Canada, and other road safety advocates, recommend impoundment and ignition interlocks, devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Sometimes getting one’s priorities straight – or just getting sober, for that matter – takes more than six hours. A little time-out away from the car isn’t a bad idea.