The provincial chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada is recommending changes to provincial legislation to ramp up the fight against impaired driving.
Colin Farrell photo
Burin Peninsula Liberal MHAs Mark Browne and Carol Anne Haley met with members of the provincial chapter of MADD Canada recently to discuss the organization’s recommended changes for provincial legislation. Cpl. Phonse Foley of the Burin Peninsula RCMP was also in attendance.
A committee representing the 11 provincial chapters will bring to government recommendations it says should “significantly” reduce injuries and deaths resulting from accidents caused by drunk drivers.
The committee was in the area on Feb. 25 to meet with Burin Peninsula MHAs Mark Browne and Carol Ann Haley.
“We were very pleased with the meeting and with the reaction,” said Roma Hayse, president of the Burin Peninsula chapter.
“It seemed like they were very in favour of what we wanted to do.”
The committee wants three major changes.
One recommendations is vehicle impoundments at the warn range level — .05 to .08 per cent blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Hayse said this could be a positive tool in the fight against impaired driving.
“It’s not going to go over very well if you’ve got mommy’s car or daddy’s car and (the police) take it and (the parent) has to go to work, so I think it would help tremendously, ’cause they’re going to get mad.”
She said this law is in force in other provinces, such as British Columbia, where — between 2010-13 — the amount of alcohol-related crashes dropped by 52 per cent, proof, she says, that it is working.
Another proposed change is implementing a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and psychoactive drugs for drivers 21 and under.
“Zero levels for young and novice drivers are a part of most graduated licensing programs,” said Hayse. “But the restriction is topically lifted when the young driver completes the program, usually at the age of 18 or 19, which happens to correspond with the legal age for drinking.
The organization would also like to see legislation put in place making alcohol interlocks mandatory for all federal impaired driving offenders, including first-time offenders as a condition of having their license reinstated.
“The alcohol ignition interlock is an effective tool (that) provides offenders with the ability to drive, while ensuring public safety by preventing them from driving impaired,” Hayse said.
“Extending the interlock program to first-time offenders is very important. This will help change people’s drinking and driving behaviours and prevent people from becoming repeat offenders.”
Others attending the meeting included Cpl. Phonse Foley of the Burin Peninsula RCMP.
“From our perspective, “ he said. “I think that some of the changes proposed are certainly doable, if the legislation was enacted by the province without bringing much more of a resource issue on the police.”
The committee will meet with government officials later this month at the House of Assembly in St. John’s.