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MADD officials provide recommendations to curb drunk driving
Published Tuesday, October 4, 2016 6:00PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, October 4, 2016 6:01PM CST
In October 2014, Allan Kerpan’s life changed forever when a late-night knock on the door woke him up at 1 a.m.
“When I went down to open the door and turn on the light, I saw an RCMP officer standing there. I knew in a heartbeat it was one of our kids,” Kerpan told reporters after a meeting between Mothers Against Drinking and Driving and members of the provincial cabinet.
Kerpan and members of MADD presented the province with several recommendations, including creating a roadside prohibition program, similar to what British Columbia has in place. In B.C., laws focus on intervening directly after a driver is found impaired. Vehicles are automatically seized for 30 days, and they’re given back with an alcohol interlock system that’s only removed once the court finds the individual can separate drinking from getting behind the wheel. Sometimes, that means drivers have the interlock for life, says MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie.
“Not only is it an incredible result in deaths going down by 50 per cent in British Columbia, but we haven't seen those results anywhere else in the world,” he said.
Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said the province is examining B.C.’s approach, but wants to avoid the legal challenges B.C.’s legislation faced when it first came into effect.
Hargrave says the province is looking at a three-pronged approach.
“It’s about education, I think that’s a crucial factor. It’s about enforcement, we want to improve enforcement and it’s about tougher penalties,” he said.
Other MADD recommendations included introducing tougher penalties for impaired drivers, and establishing a zero alcohol policy for drivers 21 years old and younger.
Murie also recommended a code of conduct for elected officials convicted of drinking and driving. Former deputy premier Don McMorris was charged with impaired driving on Aug. 5. Murie says the recommendation isn’t aimed at McMorris, but that his conviction highlights the need for a clear policy.
Minister of Justice Gordon Wyant responded, praising the way Premier Brad Wall handled McMorris’ conviction.
“Any requirement to remove a member from legislature would require a change in legislation, and that’s not something we’re currently considering,” Wyant said.
And while the two sides don’t agree on the code of conduct, they do agree things need to change, and soon. The two ministers are considering the recommendations and plan to introduce new legislation to combat drunk driving in the upcoming fall session.