Opinion – By Andrew Murie
December 11, 2018
To read the supporting and opposing viewpoints, please visit: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/thebigdebate/2018/12/11/should-people-charged-with-impaired-driving-be-publicly-shamed-yes.html
MADD Canada supports York Regional Police in its decision to publicly name people charged with impaired driving. Indeed, I thank them and other police services for their leadership and commitment as they strive to prevent impaired driving and take dangerous drivers off our roads.
I know the frustration felt by York Regional Police and the citizens of York Region. As the CEO of MADD Canada, I see it every day in communities across Canada that have experienced the horrors of impaired driving.
I have witnessed too often how impaired driving destroys families. The victims and survivors of these senseless and preventable crashes always tell me their lives will never be the same.
This community will be dealing with the aftermath of the tragic impaired driving crash that killed Jennifer Neville-Lake and Ed Lake’s three children, Daniel, Harrison and Milly, and their loving grandfather, Gary, for years to come.
The picture of those three young children has been etched into everyone’s memory. Many expected that such a high profile and tragic crash would result in less impaired driving. Who would ever take the risk of driving impaired ever again after seeing a tragedy of that magnitude, people asked.
The public naming of individuals charged with impaired driving has been around for over 20 years. In fact, in small communities across Canada, local media outlets report all individuals charged with a crime, including impaired driving.
The Canadian criminal justice system is an open process. The identity of any adult charged with a crime is part of the public record. Naming individuals charged with impaired driving violates no rights or privacy.
The shame that results from having one’s name publicized due to being charged with impaired driving stems from taking part in socially reprehensible behaviour that claims the lives of hundreds of Canadians every year and injures many, many more.
And that is an important fact to remember; the vast majority of drivers never drive impaired and should be able to use our roadways without having to worry about impaired drivers killing or injuring them or their loved ones.
Public support for the naming of impaired drivers is high, based on the responses we have seen and received. If everyone committed to never driving impaired, the debate about naming impaired drivers would be resolved.
Unfortunately, that is not happening. The current rates of impaired driving in York Region are appalling, and the York Regional Police are trying anything and everything to protect their community.
There is absolutely no excuse to drive impaired. Use a ride-sharing service, take public transit, take a taxi, arrange a designated driver or stay overnight.
Research shows that lower blood alcohol levels, vehicle impoundment, alcohol interlocks, mandatory alcohol screening and zero blood alcohol levels for new and young drivers have lowered the number of impaired driver fatalities in Canada. Many of these policies have been implemented, but there is much that still needs to be done.
Will naming and shaming eliminate the impaired driving problem? No, it will not.
But if it leads some people to stop driving impaired, that is a positive outcome. If it motivates our elected members to do more to reduce impaired driving, then it is worth doing.
I am thankful this holiday season for all the efforts of the York Regional Police, and all police services across the country.
I cannot express my sincere gratitude enough to these men and women for their dedication and service to remove impaired drivers from our roadways. Every day they put their own lives at risk to keep impaired drivers off our roadways.
I would also remind the public that they can help police take impaired drivers off the road by calling 911 if they see a driver they suspect is impaired.
Every call could save a life.