In all of the excitement of Christmas, it’s easy to forget how some people find this time of year painful. Those who have lost someone due to impaired driving find the holidays especially difficult, and there are reminders wherever they look. When they decorate the tree, when they open presents, and when they sit down as a family for a Christmas meal, they’ll see an empty spot at the table and remember.
Losing someone to an impaired driving crash is one of the worst experiences you can imagine, and that’s why Lynda McCullough’s Op-Ed for the Edmonton Journal is so difficult to read. She lost her 21-year-old daughter Jennifer because someone made the choice to drive drunk during the holidays, and instead of celebrating Christmas, they dread this time of year.
Jennifer is one of hundreds of Albertans who have died due to impaired driving crashes. From 2008 to 2012, 471 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes and 7,397 were injured. In order to reduce these senseless deaths and injuries, the Alberta RCMP is working hard to arrest impaired drivers and Alberta lawmakers have beefed up the province’s impaired driving laws.
Ignition interlock devices are a big part of reducing alcohol-related deaths and injuries, and Alberta now requires interlock devices for first time offenders. If someone is stopped by police and has .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or over, the driver will pay fines, immediately lose their driver’s license, have their vehicle seized, and will be required to install an interlock device for a period of one year. For a second impaired driving conviction, they’ll be required to install an interlock device for 3 years.
Hopefully the combination of strict impaired driving laws and interlock devices for all offenders will prevent another mother from having to write an Op-Ed about losing their child due to drunk driving, and another family won’t have to look at the holidays in dread because someone they love is not there.