It’s been 30 years since Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) began its Red Ribbon Campaign. As they spread a sea of red ribbons across the country again this year, they’ve got some thoughts on what’s currently happening with Newfoundland drunk driving laws.
One of the founders of the MADD Avalon chapter in Newfoundland and Labrador, Richard Murphy, spoke at the kick off to the Red Ribbon campaign and he weighed in with his own opinion on the recent changes to Newfoundland drunk driving laws. Although he likes what he’s seeing, he feels like it’s just taken far too long to protect the people in the province.
Murphy founded MADD in the area after he lost his own son to a drunk driver in Ontario 20 years ago, and he’s watched more and more people fall victim to drunk driving. The field of red crosses you’ll see if you go to the RCMP headquarters in Fort Townshend in St. John’s is a symbol of those victims, and it’s the hope of both lawmakers and anti-drunk driving advocates like MADD that the new Newfoundland drunk driving laws will begin to turn the tide on drunk driving.
One of the biggest changes to the provincial laws are that ignition interlocks – a device that requires you to blow a clean, alcohol-free breath sample before you can start your vehicle, are now mandatory for all drunk driving offenders. That means anyone who receives a first conviction must use the device for a year, and if you’re a repeat offender you can expect to use one for longer.
Newfoundland drunk driving laws are also requiring young drivers under the age of 22 to maintain a zero-blood alcohol content (BAC). If they’re stopped with any amount of alcohol in their system, the minimum penalty they’ll receive is having their car impounded for a week.
It’s the hopes of anti-drunk driving advocates like Murphy that new laws and annual events like the Red Ribbon campaign slow the tide of drunk driving arrests and deaths in the province. It may have taken too long to get to these changes, but they’re a good step in the right direction for Newfoundland.