It was just a week ago that you read about a man who was arrested in Newfoundland and Labrador for DUI – twice in 6 hours. It’s been suggested that the province’s lax drunk driving laws had something to do with the speedy recidivism. In particular, if the driver’s vehicle had been impounded right away, he wouldn’t have had a chance to reoffend. But Newfoundland and Labrador drunk driving laws don’t work that way – yet.
Things might change soon. Members of the province’s Liberal caucus met recently with Andrew Murie, chief executive of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada to discuss tougher drunk driving laws. A number of issues were on the table:
- Mandatory vehicle impoundment for every Administrative Licence Suspension (ALS). Anyone arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05% or above, who fails a roadside drug test, or violates their zero BAC limit (currently novice drivers) would have their vehicle impounded for 7 days.
- Zero BAC limits up to age 21. Novice drivers are prohibited from consuming any alcohol. MADD would like this to apply to all drivers under 21.
- Ignition interlocks – devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking – should be mandatory for all DUI offenses everywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador. The present ignition interlock program is only set up in the St. John’s area. MADD Canada has made advocacy of ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses a mainstay of their campaign against drunk driving in the country.
Last year MADD rated the provinces for their anti-DUI efforts, and NL found itself with a less-than-impressive F+ rating. Implementing the measures outlined above would raise that grade considerably. More important, it would save lives by taking impaired drivers off Newfoundland and Labrador’s roads.
We look forward to hearing more good news from the House of Assembly soon.