New Brunswick is the latest province to decide that drunk driving needs to go out of fashion on its roads and streets. The Department of Safety is working on legislation to require ignition interlocks for first DUI offenders. With an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, a vehicle won’t start if the driver has been drinking.
Most of the provinces have stepped up and passed all-offender ignition interlock laws, but New Brunswick has not, and drunk driving statistics reflect the more lenient treatment of offenders. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada gave New Brunswick an F in their last report on how provinces dealt with the crime.
A question often asked is, “why first offenders?” Don’t they deserve a break? Shouldn’t the interlock be a last resort for hard-core problem drinkers who continue to drive?
There are a number of responses to this question:
- Giving a first DUI offender an interlock is giving him or her a break. With an interlock, a driver can get to work or school, obtain treatment, and still be prevented from reoffending.
- Statistics show that by the time someone is arrested for DUI, they’ve driven drunk about 80 times. So a first offender is rarely a first-time drunk driver.
- Death rates due to alcohol-related crashes tend to decrease dramatically after first-offender ignition interlock laws go into effect. Recidivism is greatly reduced.
New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Stephen Horsman is behind the change in laws; he is on record stating that he is committed to helping his province improve its record on drunk driving, which is the leading criminal cause of death in the country.
Look for New Brunswick’s roads to be safer soon, thanks to the wise choices of a public official and the support of its legislators.