Mothers Against Drunk Driving CEO Andrew Murie was in the lobby of Confederation Building Tuesday, with a mouth swab that he says can detect up to six different drugs in an impaired driver’s system.
Murie was in town for meetings, along with representatives from the Newfoundland and Labrador MADD organization, to talk about provincewide 911 and stepping up efforts to catch drunk drivers.
“Newfoundland and Labrador has kind of fallen behind,” he told reporters. “Saskatchewan and New Brunswick are a lot worse than Newfoundland and Labrador, but these are all preventable deaths and injuries, and there’s more that can be done.”
Along with the drug-testing kits, Murie talked about mandatory breath-testing in cars for people who have been convicted of drunk driving, and zero tolerance for young drivers.
“Right now young people in Newfoundland and Labrador finish graduate licensing at 17 — just under 18 years — and the combination of that plus coming of legal drinking age at 19 is very deadly,” he said.
Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent was one of the people Murie met with Tuesday. Kent is the minister responsible for expanding 911 service to cover the entire province, which dovetails with MADD’s campaign to get people to call 911 to report drunk driving.
“Given the attention that’s being paid to 911 in our province right now, it seems like an ideal time for MADD to step up its efforts,” Kent said. “Anyone with cellphone access today already can call 911, and 99 per cent of the people that would be responding to the 911 campaign that MADD is promoting would be calling from their cellphones.”
Regarding the broader legal changes MADD wants to see, Kent said they would involve other departments.
“We’ve already reached out to the Department of Justice today to encourage further conversations with MADD about this particular effort,” he said. “I believe that our two police forces are doing a very good job of dealing with impaired drivers, but it’s still a real issue.”
Murie also met with Liberal MHA Paul Lane.
Lane said he believes the government should do whatever it reasonably can to stop drunk driving, and the Liberals will consider MADD’s proposals.
“All of this sounds like a good thing to me, the fact that other provinces have done it and some are considering doing it,” Lane said. “I mean, the devil is in the details with all this stuff and, as you know, with any kind of legislation or any kind of changes, there’s always going to be implications.”