Ontario has harsh impaired driving and ignition interlock laws. A first offender will lose their driver’s license for one year, be required to pay $1000 in fines, and they’ll have to install an interlock device in any vehicle they drive for one year. Repeat offenders have stiffer penalties, including the potential loss of your license for 10 years to life. Given how severe the penalties are, why are police in Sudbury, Ontario watching as their impaired driving rates soar?
A recent news article and radio interview on CBC News highlighted the impaired driving problem in Sudbury and the frustration local law enforcement feel. A Sudbury police officer, Cst. John Coluzzi, said that not more than a few days go by before they send out yet another media release on an impaired driver, and he recently arrested someone who was on their seventh impaired driving offense.
Cst. Coluzzi runs a program called Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, otherwise known as R.I.D.E. This is an Ontario-wide program where police officers operate roadside checks and question drivers about their alcohol consumption. According to the Cornwall Community Police Service, R.I.D.E. has resulted in a drop all across Ontario in impaired drivers stopped at these road checks, so why is Sudbury not seeing a drop too?
In the radio interview, Cst. Coluzzi cites massive amounts of paperwork as a block to prosecuting impaired drivers. He has found that some cases are thrown out on a technicality because something was missed in the paperwork, and with almost 200 impaired driving charges in his area every year, it’s a lot to go through. That means there are a lot of impaired drivers who keep driving when they should have an interlock device to stop them, and all it takes is one time driving drunk to injure or kill someone.
Hopefully the Sudbury police find a way to get a handle on the impaired driving problem in their area soon. If you’d like more information on Sudbury’s R.I.D.E program and the measures they’re taking to stop impaired driving, visit the Greater Sudbury Police site.