If you follow the issue of impaired driving in Canada – why people do it, how people fight it, what people do and don’t understand about it – you’ll know that 2016 was an eventful year.
At LifeSafer we’ve been following it all – the laws, the debates, and the campaigns, as well as the arrests and trials. Here are some of the stories that attracted our attention in each province.
Note: Since we have two correspondents covering impaired driving in Canada, we’re splitting our retrospective into two parts. Today features Charles Hickman’s articles; part 2 – out tomorrow – will feature Shelly Wutke’s posts.
The big news for Alberta this year was the passage of the Transportation Safety Amendment Act. Among its provisions was eliminating the exemption by which impaired drivers convicted with a BAC of less than .16 could avoid the ignition interlock requirement. The new law makes Alberta roads safer – good work!
Don’t bring a car to a bike race: good advice, which was ignored by a drunk driver in Alberta, who found himself entering the Tour of Alberta bike race. The highway had been closed off, but who notices little things like that, right?
In other news, for some reason we can’t fathom, a drunk driver hijacked a carpet cleaning van. Not everyone in Alberta was driving drunk, though. In Calgary a car show was held in memory of the victim of a drunk driver. Show Your Ride for Brandon was a chance for car enthusiasts to display their rides and promote sober driving.
Another excellent anti-impaired driving effort was the SADD liquor bag contest, in which students drew clever anti-DUI messages on bags which were distributed for use in liquor stores. The contest encouraged both students and customers to think about the consequences of drinking and driving.
During the summer, BC police noted that they were not just on the lookout for impaired drivers, but on the smellout too: an excess of cologne, mints or perfume could mean that someone is trying to disguise drinking.
That’s important, because most impaired driving deaths in BC happen in summer.
As far as Manitoba drunk driving news goes, it’s hard to beat a Zamboni, and a Zamboni driver was pinched for DUI this year. The RCMP isn’t amused, and has taken to targeting impaired drivers on social media, tweeting the names of convicted DUI drivers. They’re hoping the added sting of notoriety will help make people think twice before getting behind the wheel if they’ve had too much.
On a more somber note, a monument to lives lost due to drunk driving is being built in Manitoba.
New Brunswick has enhanced its reputation (Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada had previously given it an “F” grade) by mandating ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenses. This is a major step, and one that could have far-reaching consequences for its collision, injury, and road death statistics, provided the interlock program is well-enforced.
In other news, a local lawyer has won the right to keep his DUI DR vanity licence plates to advertise his law practice.
Newfoundland and Labrador
A man in St John’s, Newfoundland was arrested for DUI twice in six hours. This could be considered evidence that licence suspensions are not terribly effective – something we’ve been saying at LifeSafer for quite a while.
A man in the town of Paradise, driving drunk, managed to damage five vehicles and a house. Perhaps lenient DUI laws make the province a bit too heavenly for impaired drivers.
Why does NS seem to have more than its share of drunk drivers? Does it produce more – it arrested 1000 in 2015 – or is it just better at apprehending impaired drivers?
Certainly Cape Breton likes its booze.
And there were no Zamboni arrests, but there was a golf cart bust.
Ontario always has a lot going on. A public-spirited taxi driver would end drunk driving himself if he could. So would the York Regional Police. They did a very funny video styling their jail as a luxury hotel.
Some people just about arrested themslelves, such as the man who left his licence plate at the scene, the one who drove with a missing tire and his airbag deployed, and the one who managed to run himself over.
Prince Edward Island
While Prince Edward Island is not known as the toughest place on earth for impaired drivers, if you refuse a breath test, you are not treated kindly. This year one driver got 55 days in jail, as well as $1500 in charges and a 2-year suspension. Ouch.
You think such a serious charge would be enough to keep you awake, but recently an impaired driver managed to fall asleep in the interview room at the police station.
With its love of food and wine, Québec has had as hard a struggle as any province with drinking and driving, and it has made headway. But…
A bus driver was arrested for drunk driving in Lévis after a rider noticed something was wrong. The blood alcohol limit for a bus driver in Québec is zero. No exceptions.
A man in Scott was pulled over under suspicion of DUI. Not wishing to incriminate himself, he did the logical thing – he jumped into the Chaudière river. It did not end well for him.
No Zambonis this year in Québec, but there was a backhoe DUI, if that counts. Oh, and it was stolen. Next case.
Saskatchewan has proven a tough nut to crack. Impaired driving is still the province’s number 1 road killer, and its DUI numbers are staggeringly high. So prevalent is the crime of drunk driving here that no less than five candidates in last April’s elections had a DUI on their record, prompting a debate about whether a person with such a record should run for office.
New DUI laws, including ignition interlock laws, go into effect in the new year, so perhaps Saskatchewan will no longer have the dubious distinction of leading the nation in drunk driving next year. It’s certainly something to shoot for.
Our thanks to all the wonderful Canadians who have worked so hard to make the roads and streets of this beautiful country safer for all. See you in 2017!