Newmarket Era
November 25, 2018

Would an ignition interlock device, outfitted on all cars, cut the number of impaired drivers on our roads?

A majority of readers who responded to a poll on YorkRegion.com think so.

Readers were reacting to news from York Regional Police that the number of impaired drivers is on the rise, despite high-profile tragedies and a media campaign warning that lives are at risk.

Five people were charged with impaired driving Nov. 22, just one day after police and MADD launched their annual holiday RIDE campaign.

The next night, another eight drivers were charged.

The following night’s numbers were down — one driver was charged with impaired at 4 a.m. Nov. 25, according to YRP Insp. Peter Casey — but the number of arrests is still rising overall, with more than 1,200 charges laid for offences related to drug or alcohol impairment so far this year.

“How many more mothers have to cry like I do because their children are killed by impaired drivers?: Jennifer Neville-Lake tweeted Nov. 24, on hearing news of increasing charges.

Neville-Lake lost her three young children and father in a collision caused by an impaired driver in 2015.

“What will it take? Believe me you DON’T want to be me. You DON’T want to live how I am forced to!!”

In an online poll, YorkRegion.com asked readers what they believe it will take to reduce drinking and driving, and 41 per cent — 55 votes — favoured ignition interlock — cars outfitted with mandatory breath tests that prevent the vehicles from starting if the driver has been drinking.

In Ontario, those convicted of an impaired driving-related offence or suspended three or more times within a 10-year period, who want to drive after their licence is reinstated, must install an in-car alcohol breath-screening device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol concentration over a pre-set limit of 0.02.

Almost as many readers, 38 per cent, believe tougher penalties (higher fines and more jail sentences) could solve the problem.

Punishment for impaired driving has increased over the years — drivers no longer just receive a warning and 12-hour suspension, but today can lose their license for three days and have their car impounded for three days. Further consequences imposed by the courts can include longer license suspensions, large fines and jail time.

But some readers think there should be more.

Readers suggested vehicles should be seized and sold, with revenues donated to victims, offenders names be published or mandatory jail time, with licences banned for 10 years or more.

Thirteen per cent of respondents said some people will never get the message, while seven per cent suggested all drivers be required to take courses similar to what is required for those charged with DUI.

Dawn Chaykowsky believes harsh penalties are the only answer.

The Georgina mom shared the pain she endured, in 2001, when her sister and mother were hit by a three-time repeat-offending impaired driver.

She described falling to her knees at the news of her mother’s death, finding her sister in hospital, “bloated, unconscious and barely recognizable,” covered in blood, stitches and broken bones and facing a Christmas tree with gifts for her mother that would never be opened.

“May you never have to live through (this)”, she posted on Facebook, in response to a YorkRegion.com article about impaired driving. “Remember my story and message. The more you drink, the less you think.”

What do you think? Take our online poll here: “We’re not OK with this”