We give the Bridgewater fast food worker credit. Police officers are trained to spot drunk driving when they see it. They do it by looking for the obvious signs, such as drifting into opposing lanes or hitting curbs. They’re also good at spotting subtler clues, such as driving with open windows on very cold days, or waiting too long at stop lights.
The fast-food worker didn’t have the benefit of all that training, but his eyes were open. A driver at the fast food window was having trouble holding his debit card. That small fumble was enough to alert the worker, who called the police. Officers arrested Manuel Joseph Jesso for impaired driving, and for good reason: his blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit.
Where to Go From Here?
This case has caused a bit of controversy. The defendant has a history of drunk driving convictions, including one of impaired driving causing death. He has been ordered to perform community service and stay away from alcohol, which the judge apparently feels will be more rehabilitative than prison.
Nova Scotia’s Record on Drunk Driving
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, Nova Scotia is not a very good student of the arts of drunk driving prevention. The organization gave it a grade of D in its 2015 Provincial Impaired Driving Report.
Among the reasons that Nova Scotia scored poorly was the province’s ignition interlock requirements. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Nova Scotia only mandates the device for some categories of offenders – MADD believes that all offenders should be interlock-eligible. Nova Scotia also does not require a minimum of 3 years’ interlock use for a second DUI offense, which MADD believes is important for public safety.
Whether those measures would have prevented this particular incident is not known. What is true is if Mr. Jesso has one installed now, it will prevent the next incident from happening, as it was designed to do.
Rehabilitation is a goal, and an important one. But so is the protection of other drivers and pedestrians. Next time there might not be an attentive fast-food worker to spot the offender in question. That is what ignition interlocks are for.