A lot of Canadians drive while impaired. Police manage to catch about 90,000 of them each year, but that’s just a small fraction of the total on the road. Some say one in 500 drunk drivers is caught, and some put the odds against being pulled over much higher. But around 90,000 do get caught, which is a good thing. An Ontario DUI conviction will mean a fine and an ignition interlock requirement, the latter of which will keep the driver from re-offending while the device is installed.
It’s worth examining just how these drivers get caught. A recent weekend in Markham, Ontario offers a snapshot of the factors at work. Of the 15 DUIs bagged in that city a three-day period (July 8h through 10th):
- 3 resulted from collisions
- 8 were detected in spot checks and general patrols
- 4 were apprehended via 911 calls
Of the eight, the most interesting was one which involved an extremely short patrol by the police officer. A man was found asleep in a van in the parking lot of the York Regional Police station on McCowan Road in Markham. The officer noticed the smell of alcohol and arrested him.
Ontario DUI and Care and Control
Not everyone realizes that a person can be arrested for DUI even though the car is parked. The charge is Care and Control. In order to prove a DUI charge, the prosecution must show that an offender was in “care and control” of a vehicle. That’s obvious if the impaired person was driving at the time.
A person who is drunk and sleeping in a van, and who has the keys in his or her possession, is also deemed to be in care and control, because there is a risk of setting the van in motion, and there could be danger if the van were to start moving.
The Vital Element in DUI Prevention: You
It’s also worth noting that more than a quarter of the impaired drivers apprehended that weekend were caught as a result of 911 calls by concerned citizens. The public has become a vital part of the movement to rid the roads of drunk drivers. Awareness programs such as MADD’s Campaign 911 have helped spread the word that it is everyone’s duty to see that drinkers do not become drivers.
Road safety advocates are looking for ways to drop Ontario DUI crash numbers, and taking drunk drivers off the roads is one way. More patrols and checkstops can do that, but those measures cost money.
Vigilance, however, is free. If everyone in Ontario watched out for their friends, and made sure that no one in their presence made it to the driver’s seat while drunk, then the province’s arrest and the crash numbers would both go down.