Canada’s news doesn’t feature a lot bout impaired driving in the Yukon. But the lack of news doesn’t mean that the territory doesn’t have a drunk driving problem. Impaired driving rates are sky high up north, and the most recent data from StatsCanada even ranks the impaired driving rates as higher than Saskatchewan.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stepped in to find out how to reduce the amount of drunk driving arrests, injuries, and deaths in the territory. They sent out a questionnaire to three of the parties running for a territorial election, and they wanted to know whether they would support the same impaired driving penalties you’d find in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, or Ontario.
The penalties in question are vehicle impoundment, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 to .08 warn range violations, and longer driver’s license suspensions. Although each party had its own thoughts on which penalties would work best in the territory, they all agree that zero tolerance is appropriate for drivers under the age of twenty one.
One thing the questionnaire didn’t touch on was ignition interlocks. Current Yukon territory laws for a first time drunk driver include an immediate driver’s license suspension of ninety days and an administrative driver’s license suspension of one year. If you don’t want to skip driving for a year, you have the option of installing an ignition interlock in your vehicle. You can either sign up for the ignition interlock program voluntarily or be assigned an interlock by a judge.
In that respect, the Yukon could take a look at the example Saskatchewan is setting. They have a mandatory ignition interlock program for all drunk drivers, have recently brought in emergency changes to their impaired driving laws, and they are focusing on educating the people living there on the dangers of drunk driving. It’s all part of plan to drastically cut the number of impaired people on the road.
Would the same penalties that work in other provinces work in the isolated north of the Yukon? It’s worth a try.