A bit of surprising news came out of the latest impaired driving numbers just released by the Prince Edward Island RCMP. The police tallied drunk driving arrests and sorted them by age and sex for each county.
What’s going on? It’s not clear. Generally, most drunk drivers are males around 19 years of age, so Queens County’s results look a bit more like what one would expect to find. That makes Kings County the exception.
A spokesperson for the RCMP said that the lower figure for young offenders in Queens County was due to media programs that target that age group. But such programs are employed in other counties too.
One also has to ask why it was the 50-60 age group that spiked in Kings County, as opposed to the 30-40, say. That, too, is a mystery, though not a compelling one. Why? Because one year’s worth of data isn’t enough to go on: it might well be an anomaly that will correct itself next year.
The good news is that drunk driving is down overall in P.E.I., partly because of the new DUI laws that came into effect last year. Three-time DUI offenders must now use an ignition interlock for 10 years. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
The province also requires a special license plate for DUI offenders. The plate is only identifiable to police, however, so it is not a shaming device but rather a law enforcement information tool.
Prince Edward Island has been praised for its forward-looking attitude towards DUI enforcement.
This time next year, with another year of statistics under their belt, P.E.I. can get a better idea of what’s working and what’s not in their anti-drunk-driving efforts, and they can adjust the programs accordingly. Drivers of all ages in the province will be safer because of it.