Tis the season to be social with friends, and that festive feeling in the air appears to have brought on a busy drunk driving season for the courtrooms of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI). There’s been a rush of drunk drivers before the judge, and some of them are resulting in jail time.
Out of the recent court cases resulted in a 38-year-old female being sentenced to 50 days plus an additional 30 days in a provincial jail after she was found with an open bottle of vodka in her car. It wasn’t her first offense, and when asked to submit to a breathalyzer test police found her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be more than double the legal limit.
She was charged with several counts including failure to attend a scheduled court date, driving while prohibited, and violation of probation. In addition to fines, she’s also lost her drivers license for 3 years. Because Prince Edward Island is a province that requires ignition interlocks for all offenders, she’ll be required to install one when she’s regained her driving privileges.
Another PEI offender was also sentenced to 7 days jail time after he struck a pole in a mall parking lot. When police arrived on the scene he was asleep in the car, and after he failed a breathalyzer test he was arrested for impaired driving. Along with his jail time he’s looking at fines of $1,000.
According to Stats Canada, it’s not surprising that PEI has a virtual swinging courtroom door because impaired driving cases make up a quarter of all adult court cases in the province. That’s a lot of drunk drivers, but the drunk driving rate on PEI, a relatively tiny province, is double the national Canadian average.
Local lawmakers have actively been trying to curb the drunk driving problem with special license plates for repeat offenders. Anyone with 3 or more drunk driving convictions will be eligible to swap their ignition interlock for a plate after serving half of their 10 year ignition interlock sentence.
Will these measures be enough to stop the growing number of drunk driving offenders in PEI? No one knows, but between jail time, ignition interlocks, and a increasingly harsh repeat offender program, at least the province is on the right path.