Should we shame drunk drivers?

Drunk driving accounts for almost 25% of all fatalities on Ontario’s roads. If you have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in excess of 0.08 and you drive, you are committing the crime of impaired driving. Your BAC can be affected by how quickly you drink, your gender, your body weight and the amount of food in your stomach, but at the end of the night, or day, what is certain to cause you to be arrested for impaired driving is to get in your car to drive home after drinking.

If you puruse the St. Thomas Police website, you will soon grow tired seeing headlines such as these:

2012-06-18 – Impaired driver
2012-06-17 – Impaired Driver
2012-06-11 – Impaired driver charged
2012-06-08 – Motorcycle Crash leads to Impaired Charge
2012-06-04 – Impaired driver charged
2012-05-31 – Impaired driver arrested
2012-05-29 – Impaired driver charged

It is by far the most common offence in St. Thomas and while law enforcement and organizations such as MADD Canada campaign tirelessly to prevent and educate drivers, we still see reports of fatalities caused by impaired driving much too often.

So why do people continue to drink and drive? Could it be the same reason as to why people speed when driving? The laws are just guidelines and only apply to other people? Or is it because people believe that their capacity for alcohol is above average and therefore it isn’t illegal for them to be driving? Some impaired driving can obviously be attributed to generally underestimating how much alcohol has been consumed, and perhaps a small percantage believe that they have no other way to get home other than to drive, regardless of their condition.

Despite what drivers may believe, there are always other options, from sleeping over, taxi, paying a service that drives you AND your vehicle home. This is what you can do once you are consuming alcohol but even before you leave home you can plan to prevent having to drive by having a designated driver or making plans to have someone pick you up and drive you home.

So with all these options available, and the campaigns against impaired driving, arrests and accidents continue to occur so what is the next possible step? Legally you can lose your license, pay a fine, and have your vehicle impounded but these are all valid now and seem to not be a deterant.

What if the names and photographs of arrested impaired drivers were made public? Some police departments around the world have gone this route although always with surrounding concern of publicizing people who are yet to be found guilty in a court of law.

So what about taking a mugshot of the alledged impaired driver and any damage that may have been caused to vehicles, and if the person is found innocent, then the photographs are destroyed, but if found guilty then the photographs are circulated to local newspapers and websites. This obviously ignores the possible privacy issues but even so, should someone found guilty of impaired driving have their privacy respected this cases like this or is this something else they can lose, along with their freedom, their vehicle and possibly their livelyhood.

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  1. It baffles my mind that with services such as the Canadian Designated Drivers (http://www.canadiandesignateddrivers.com/) that there are still so many people out there still driving drunk. Especially since it costs so little. What’s $25 compared to risking your and someone else’s life?

  2. There is no excuse for drinking and driving and yet every single day people do it. I think some believe they can handle it, or that they aren’t that impaired, or they think they can get away with it. Alcohol affects judgement for drivers.