It began with a public-spirited citizen who, having spotted a driver hitting a curb in Charlottetown, P.E.I., hailed a police officer. The citizen was obviously aware that slamming into a curb is one of the signs of drunk driving.
The officer arrested the driver, whose name was Welsh, and brought him to the station.
If there was any doubt of the driver’s impairment, Welsh proceeded to remove it by falling asleep in the police interview room. He spent the night in jail.
Prince Edward Island’s drunk driving laws are fairly strict. A first offense results in a one-year suspension of driving privileges and a fine. There is also a mandatory ignition interlock requirement. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
Whatever the particular results of this case, it’s clear that someone who is that close to falling asleep should not be on the road. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada and other road safety organizations are attempting to strengthen impaired driving legislation in Canada to bring down the number of road fatalities. Recently Saskatchewan has dramatically improved its laws. In 2015 MADD Canada published a report outlining the state of each province’s impaired driving laws, and areas in which legislation could improve.
Better laws will help, but we will always need vigilant citizens to spot the tire that hits the curb or the vehicle that moves erratically in the road. Drunk drivers tend to fall asleep at the wheel. That’s why the rest of us must have our eyes open at all times.