Nighttime is when policemen on DUI patrols haunt the roads. By tradition cocktail hour begins at five, and it’s usually the wee hours by the time drunk drivers make their unwise journey home. Teenagers also stage their drinking parties under cover of darkness.
So why, then, are western Newfoundland drunk drivers being picked up in the afternoon?
A couple of weekends ago a driver was arrested for intoxication in Stephenville – right after a parade organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) had passed by. His BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was found to be twice the legal limit.
At Mathis Point, another man was nabbed that afternoon, again with a BAC double the limit. The next day a man in Pasadena was booked on the same charge.
Police will tell you that while nighttime DUIs are more common, impaired drivers will show up any time of day. Those with severe alcohol problems are especially likely to be drinking (and driving) in the daytime. That three offenders were arrested in two afternoons is not a new trend, just some good police work.
Mid-afternoon DUI arrests are not the mark of a casual drinker, and chances are these drivers have offended before, and will offend again. Requiring them to install an ignition interlock would be a good way to keep the public safe (the Pasadena offender was driving near children). An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
Newfoundland and Labrador has a voluntary ignition interlock program. Drivers who are suspended for DUI can opt for an interlock to get their driving privileges back early. But experience has shown that mandatory interlock laws work better. As the province has no Government auto insurance, drivers are reluctant to pay the costs of an interlock because they also have to pay higher insurance rates after a DUI.
Police catch drunk drivers at all hours, but they can’t catch all of them. The best thing about an ignition interlock is that it’s on duty 24 hours a day to keep drivers from getting behind the wheel while impaired – in Newfoundland, and everywhere else in Canada that’s wise enough to require them.