Yukon has a drinking problem. Worse, it has a drunk driving problem, and according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the territory has fallen behind other regions of Canada in terms of impaired driving laws.
Following a report by a professor at Western University in London, Ontario – a report which reveals that Yukon has a disturbingly high rate of heavy drinking and drunk driving – the MADD chapter in Whitehorse has written a letter to all election candidates to outline their proposals to improve the situation.
MADD’s proposals include:
- Increasing immediate roadside licence suspensions for impaired drivers with BACs over .05%. Upon a DUI arrest, Yukon suspends a driver’s licence for 24 hours. Other provinces impose a suspension of 3 or 7 days for a first offence. This makes more sense to MADD, as offenders need this first sanction as an incentive to change their behaviour. MADD recommends a 7-day suspension for a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or under to maximize deterrent impact.
- Impounding vehicles as part of licence suspension. Drivers who are arrested with a BAC over the warn range of .05% BAC should lose their vehicles as well as their licenses, says MADD. For evidence, the letter cites similar laws in BC and Alberta, which have resulted in a decrease in crash deaths. Repeat drunk drivers are simply too dangerous to ignore, and this simple measure works to take a driver off the road until proper evaluations can be made.
- Zero alcohol tolerance for drivers 21 and under. Since alcohol is a factor in almost half of crash deaths involving 15- to 25-year-olds, MADD believes it is imperative to institute a .0 BAC requirement for all underage drivers. Several provinces have already done this.
We know that tougher impaired driving legislation saves lives: we’ve seen it do just that all over Canada. Yukon is overdue to see a similar change.
We’ll be watching to see which candidates are on board with MADD.