MADD calls for harsher penalties for impaired drivers
Reaction follows Saturday's texting and driving rollover crash that involved alcohol
Tough new drunk driving rules on the Island are not enough to prevent bad driving behaviour, says the P.E.I. chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Russ Stewart, with MADD P.E.I., said a serious rollover crash early Saturday morning near Montague is evidence that the laws aren’t doing enough.
"It's not getting out the way I'd like it to. It's still happening. Whether it's alcohol, or texting and using your cell phone, it's all a question of distraction of your driving skills while you're driving," he said.
Five teen boys had just left a house party in the Montague area early Saturday morning when the crash happened.
The 18-year-old driver from Vernon River told police he became distracted while texting, left the road, struck a culvert, and the vehicle rolled several times. Everyone in the vehicle received minor injuries though none required hospitalization.
The police investigation also determined that alcohol was a factor in the crash, but the driver's blood alcohol level was not enough to warrant a criminal charge.
P.E.I. has the highest rate of impaired driving in the Maritimes, and one of the highest in Canada.
The province introduced changes to drunk driving laws last fall.
The new law stipulates that all first-time offenders must have ignition interlocks in their vehicles. The devices won't allow the vehicle to start if alcohol is detected on the driver's breath.
Offenders caught with children under 16 years old in the vehicle will have to use the ignition-breathalyzer program for two years.
Police in Charlottetown also recently changed their strategy for catching impaired drivers. Instead of setting up road checks on major streets leading in and out of the city, police began stopping vehicles in downtown areas. They also increased patrols during late night periods when bars are closing.The driver of the Montague crash faces numerous Highway Traffic Act charges including driving without due care and attention, as well as a licence suspension due to the strict rules on P.E.I. for drivers still under the graduated licence program relating to zero-tolerance for any blood alcohol level.