The battle against drunk driving seems endless sometimes, but there is some good news from Cape Breton: the number of impaired driving offenses has declined on the island. Two years ago 170 impaired driving related charges were filed. This year, as of the end of September, the number is 107.
What has caused the reduction? A number of factors:
- Awareness: Education programs are getting the message out that drunk driving is dangerous, anti-social and unacceptable.
- Public action: More people are calling the police to report suspected drunk drivers.
- Enforcement: The Cape Breton Regional Police have been vigilant in scouting for impaired drivers, particularly on holiday weekends when more revelers are likely to be on the road.
- Lower BAC limit: Nova Scotia is one of a few provinces who exact penalties for drivers with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .05, rather than the Canadian standard of .08 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Drivers who blow between .05 and .08 face an immediate 24-hour licence suspension.
- Treatment: First-time offenders must complete a drug/alcohol dependency assessment program.
- Ignition interlocks: Nova Scotia has an ignition interlock (car breathalyzer) program, although not a very thoroughgoing one compared to others in the country. The device, ordered by alcohol assessment personnel, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
- Fines: For DUI convictions, fines can range from $600 to $2,000. There are also fees for licence reinstatement and the addiction-drug dependency assessment.
Change does not happen by itself. Cape Breton’s roads are safer because the people and the government want it that way, and they have taken action. All of the methods listed are ones that any community can adopt if they are committed to taking impaired drivers off the highways.
We offer congratulations to the Cape Breton Regional Police and wish them more success in the future.