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Welcoming tougher rules on drunk driving in N.L.

Drinking and driving resulted in one woman and one man being charged Saturday night.
Drinking and driving resulted in one woman and one man being charged Saturday night.

Well, they’re here. And it’s about time.

Barely a day goes by that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary or the RCMP don’t report catching a drinking driver, either as part of a highway stop or through the diligent reporting of driver who spot someone driving erratically.

It’s still an everyday occurrence despite penalties, despite the general public embarrassment, despite the fact that it’s a clearly accepted fact that drinking and driving kills.

Yesterday, new rules kicked in that lay even more strict conditions and penalties on those who insist on driving after drinking.

Here, in case you’ve missed them so far, are the changes, particularly for those who can’t seem to figure out that drinking and driving don’t mix, courtesy of Service NL:

“A driver whose licence is suspended after an impaired driving conviction will be required to enter a mandatory ignition interlock program as a condition of reinstatement.

“Drivers less than 22 years of age will be required to maintain a blood alcohol content of zero per cent while driving.

“Any driver found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater will have their vehicle impounded for a minimum of 30 days.

“Drivers who are 22 years of age or older who are found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.05 or greater but less than 0.08, will have their vehicle impounded for seven days. 

“Novice drivers and drivers under 22 years of age will have their vehicle impounded for seven days if they are found to have a blood alcohol content greater than zero but less than 0.08.”

The changes are Highway Traffic Act rule changes, not criminal code changes, but the impacts will be felt swiftly — especially by those who lose their vehicles after blowing over .08, a move that should also halt drivers from leaving police custody and immediately getting into their cars and trying to drive again.

The most expensive change for drinking drivers, though, is likely to be the mandatory ignition interlock system that anyone convicted of drinking and driving will have to have installed before they can get their driver’s licence reinstated.

A Saskatchewan interlock program lists a litany of fees from the private provider for those who have to install the systems: $145, plus tax, for installation; $80 a month, plus tax, for monitoring fees; $50, plus tax, removal fee, and a $105, plus tax, administration fee. That’s about $1,400, all in, per year. Some provinces also add their own administrative fees on top of the corporate costs. (And don’t forget the increase in insurance costs.)

The simple fact would be that none of the changes would be necessary if people would simply understand that they shouldn’t drink and drive.

Sadly, though, the only solution seems to be a bigger stick.

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