Impaired drivers take note. Manitoba RCMP has revived an age-old way of discouraging wrongdoing: public shame.
In the old days, it was the stocks, or a scarlet letter. Now it’s social media. At the close of the year Manitoba RCMP launched a hashtag campaign called Impaired Reality to draw attention to the problem of drunk driving in the province.
Many police organizations use social media to promote sober driving, and tweets with the#ImpairedReality hashtag include messages about designated drivers and the like.
More interesting is the policy of tweeting the names of convicted impaired drivers. Provincial offenses are a matter of public record, but it is hoped that the added sting of social media will cause more drivers to be cautious about drinking.
Manitoba is serious about bringing down the number of impaired drivers in the province. Last June it passed the Safer Roads Act, which includes requiring ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses, not just repeat offenses. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Requiring every DUI offender to use an interlock device has been shown to reduce DUI recidivism rates.
Manitoba DUI laws also specify a warn range – a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 to .08. Anyone caught with a BAC in the warn range loses their driver’s licence for three days.
Will #ImpairedReality have an effect on the province’s alcohol-related collision rates? Perhaps not at the present. So far there haven’t been enough posts under the hashtag to make a difference. But if Manitoba RCMP decides to ramp up the program to rally public support, things could change. No one wants to have their bad decisions displayed for all to see, after all.