Drunk behind the wheel

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Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Staff Sgt. Gerald Carrigan put it pretty plainly when he wrote up and sent out the St. John's area weekend police blotter to the media on Sunday.
"13-52787 - At 7:30 a.m. patrol services conducted a traffic stop on LeMarchant Road for expired registration. Upon further investigation, a 24-year-old female was charged with impaired driving and over 80 mgs alcohol in blood. Accused was released to appear in court at a later date.

"13-52953 - At 8:30 p.m., as the result of a complaint, a traffic safety stop was conducted on Elizabeth Ave. This resulted in a 35-year-old female being charged with impaired driving and over 80. This was her second charge in less than 24 hours. She was detained for court and her vehicle impounded.

"13-53029 - At 2:00 a.m., police conducted a traffic safety stop in Paradise which resulted in a 57-year-old male being charged with impaired and over 80. Released for court.

"13-53038 - At 2:40 a.m., police conducted a traffic safety stop on Waterford Bridge Road which resulted in a 24-year-old male being charged with impaired driving and over 80. Released for court.

"13-53044 - At 3:00 a.m., police conducted a traffic safety stop on Topsail Road in St. John's which resulted in a 23-year-old male being charged with impaired and over 80. He was released for court."

A mix of sexes, a mix of ages, one thing in common: all are drivers who apparently aren't getting the message the drinking and driving don't mix, and that lives are at risk: after all, it's been next to no time since a motorcyclist was killed in the middle of the day by an alleged drunk driver on Kenmount Road.

The startling fact, beside the fact one woman was charged for drunk driving for the second time in 24 hours? Perhaps that four of the five were 35 or younger - and the fact that three were in their 20s, an age where the hazards of drunk driving must have been being hammered into their consciousness by a constant barrage of public messages.

Drunk driving kills and injures scores of Canadians every year - public education makes that point plainly. But just as plainly, there are those who ignore the message - at everyone's peril.

The police already have tools that allow them to stop vehicles simply on the suspicion of drunk driving, and it may well be that a recent focus on the crime - along with a greater number of ordinary citizens notifying police of possible impaired drivers - is the cause of the recent apparent spike in the number of charges being laid.

But none of that erases the fact that too many drinking drivers are still being found on our roads.

Just what steps do we have to take to find them and keep them off the road? Because clearly, the current laws are not enough of a deterrent.

Geographic location: Paradise, Waterford Bridge Road, Topsail Road St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Mike Hall
    September 12, 2013 - 02:44

    Provincial legislation is required which would authorize seizure and detention of the involved vehicle until the completion of court proceedings, together with a mandatory forfeiture of that vehicle upon conviction. Really simple. Really effective. What about the financial or property rights of lien holders or persons who may have just loaned the vehicle to the offender? That's a civil issue between two parties, not a public concern, so sue the offender. Again, that's it: Simple and effective.

  • Skeptical Cynic
    September 11, 2013 - 19:28

    Introduce legislation allowing law enforcement to impound the vehicles of accused drunk drivers until their trial date... and if they're convicted, their vehicles are immediately forfeited to the Crown, no exceptions. Basically the same approach the justice system uses to deal with poaching scum. That'll solve the problem, guaranteed.

  • Tony Rockel
    September 11, 2013 - 11:59

    These offenders should be forced to display a prominent sign on their vehicle that says: "Convicted Drunk Driver".