Quebec has a proud musical history, having produced artists as diverse as Céline Dion, Leonard Cohen and Oscar Peterson. But this year has not been a good one for musicians, at least not for Québécois singer-songwriters.
Last summer Claude Dubois, a member of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, was picked up driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of about twice the legally permissible level.
The point is not that singers drive drunk – it’s that so many people do overall. Police in Canada arrests about 90,000 people each year for impaired driving. Every year more than 300 people die on Quebec’s roads. About a third of those deaths are alcohol-related. And while Quebec’s record is better than most, road safety advocates believe that too many people are dying as a result of preventable behaviour.
One area in which Quebec excels – and which might contribute to the province’s generally superior DUI statistics – is its ignition interlock program, which is excellent. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Depending on the number of convictions, people convicted of DUI in Quebec are required to have an interlock installed for from one year to life. Participation in the interlock program is high, which means that repeat offenders are very likely to have one installed, and thus, are prevented from taking to the roads under the influence. Insurance rates are kept low, even after a DUI, so more people can afford to install and maintain the ignition interlocks.
Singers, poets, accountants, engineers, teachers – anyone can have a drinking problem and be a risk for drunk driving. While the famous ones get in the papers, all of them are dangerous to themselves and others.