Drunk driving has been a continuing problem in our province. But now, there might be a way to make Quebec roads a bit safer.
With a new ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada, it will now be possible for Quebec authorities to seize cars from drunk drivers after their third offence.
Considering just how dangerous drunk driving is, this new preventative step is one in the right direction. Driving is not a right, but a privilege. If someone is unable to refrain from drinking and taking the wheel, they shouldn’t have the privilege to drive in the first place.
You would think that with all the ads we’ve been subjected to that warn us of the dangers of drunk driving, people would think twice before taking the wheel. Apparently this isn’t so. According to Statistics Canada, police reported close to 90,300 incidents nationwide involving impaired driving in 2011. This was an increase of 3,000 compared to the year before.
Although the number of total incidents in Canada have increased, in Quebec the number of deaths related to drinking and driving has gone down from 800 to 200 between 1978 and 2008. However, even with the decrease, driving under the influence is still a problem. According to the SAAQ website, “from 2005 through 2009, 31 per cent of fatalities, 16 per cent of serious injuries and 5 per cent of minor injuries were related to alcohol.”
With drunk driving still presenting a serious problem on our roads, it’s comforting to know that the punishment will be equivalent to the crime. If someone is caught on three different occasions, being slapped with a fine and racking up a few demerit points will not be enough to prevent them from doing it again. Therefore having them off the road altogether is a relief.
In February of last year, a 67-year-old Quebec man was convicted for his 24th drunk driving offence. According to the Toronto Sun, this is believed to be a Canadian record for the most drunk driving offences—not exactly a record to be proud of. This is a prime example of a flawed system. Had the new Supreme Court ruling been in effect then, it could have prevented 21 additional offences.
The argument against this new law is that it takes away the freedom of transportation for some.
Another Quebec man, Alphide Manning, had his vehicle seized after he was apprehended for his fifth offense of driving while intoxicated. He contested the decision, as he apparently needed his truck to be able to go to the hospital where he and his wife were being treated for various health problems. However, that does not take away from the fact that he is a public danger. Taking his truck away is a preventive measure to ensure the security of himself and others on the road. The Supreme Court agreed and ruled against him 7-0 on Jan. 17.
The common misconception is that driving under the influence affects only the driver. The truth is that it affects everyone involved, whether it is someone in the passenger seat or someone else driving. As much as a car is a way of transportation, it is also a deadly hunk of metal racing on the highway. Thus the decision to limit the number of offences is a good way of limiting the dangers that repeat offenders pose. The government has its responsibility to make sure you or your loved ones don’t end up in a body bag over something so preventable and this legislation is a step in that direction.