What’s the worst choice you can make as a driver? Driving under the influence of alcohol is certainly in the top two. But you can outdo even that extremely bad decision. Two drivers, one in BC and one in Quebec, managed to do just that recently.
A couple of days later in Burnaby, BC, a driver collided with a barrier, then kept driving until he was apprehended. He had a four-year-old-girl in the car. The driver had superficial cuts, but the girl was unharmed.
As bad as drunk driving is – dangerous to oneself, other drivers and pedestrians too – one must view this kind of behaviour with even greater horror. Endangering an innocent child is an incredibly reckless thing to do. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) views it as “criminal and irresponsible” and terms it a type of child abuse.
Two provinces, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, have laws that address drinking and driving with a minor. Even in provinces that do not specify punishments for driving drunk with a minor, child endangerment laws would apply. For example, a guiding principle of British Columbia’s Child, Family and Community Service Act is that “Children are entitled to be protected from abuse, neglect and harm or threat of harm.”
Apart from the likelihood of a crash, when in the vehicle of an impaired driver a child is in even greater peril, as the driver is less likely to ensure that child safety seats or seat belts are properly used.
Unfortunately, if taking a child on a drunken drive shows bad judgment, remember that alcohol is famous for impairing judgment. Therefore, it is up to sober friends and family to watch that problem drinkers don’t drive. And any drinker who takes a child for a drive while drunk is very likely a problem drinker.
Children do indeed have the right to be protected from neglect and harm. We hope that the judges in these two cases send this message to drunk drivers and everyone else on the road.