CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

A 49-year old male was charged with Impaired Driving, Failing the Breathalyzer and Failing to remain at the scene of an accident resulting from a collision on Route 60, CBS at approximately 10:45am. Vehicles received minor damage and there were no injuries. He was released and will appear in court at a later date.

A 58 year old male was charged with Impaired Driving and Failing the Breathalyzer resulting from a traffic stop on Topsail Road. The vehicle was stopped resulting from a complaint made by a citizen of a possible impaired driver in the area of the Topsail Road. He was released and will appear in court at a later date.
(an excerpt from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's overnight report from Nov. 20, 2008)

A car crashed into the rec room of a home in St. John's early this morning. The RNC say the vehicle left the road and ended up partially inside a home on Curling Place at about 1:20 a.m. No one was hurt, but a 29-year-old St. John's man is facing several charges, including theft of a motor vehicle and impaired driving.
(CBC Radio News, November 15, 2008)

Police in St. John's used a dog to track the driver of a car that crashed into a tree early this morning. The tree is on the lawn in front of Browning Harvey, on Ropewalk Lane. The 25-year-old was found a short distance from the accident. He was charged with impaired driving and released.
(0700 CBC Radio News, Nov. 12, 2008)

Police in St. John's relied on two different methods to catch impaired drivers last night. A 50-year old man was arrested after someone called the RNC from the Elizabeth Avenue area to say they'd smelled alcohol on the man's breath while he was on his way to his car. Officers used the licence plate number to track the driver to his home in the east end. In the west end, the police caught an 18-year-old was in a routine traffic stop.
(0700 CBC Radio News, Nov. 11, 2008)

The RCMP have charged a man with impaired driving causing death after a fatal crash near Portugal Cove South. A 66-year-old man from Biscay Bay died after a car crashed Saturday afternoon on the Southern Shore highway. He was a passenger in the car.
(0700 CBC Radio News, Nov. 10, 2008)

There were a lot of stories about drinking and driving before, and after, the holiday season.

We started taking a look at the subject in November. It quickly became apparent that it wasn't a good month for news about incidents of drinking and driving across the province. Newscasts and police reports for days on end contained at least one incident where someone was stopped for driving while under the influence

Drinking and driving was an acceptable practice many years ago. It became less so as efforts increased to control the number of people killed or injured by drunk drivers, especially with the formation of groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD)in the U.S. and Canada. Where once it might have been okay to drink and drive, these days most people who know they'll be drinking take a cab or assign a designated driver.

So why were we seeing so many stories in November about people being pulled over on suspicion of driving while impaired?

"I wish I knew the answer to that. The police and MADD are getting the message out there. We are doing school seminars, multimedia shows. You know, we're doing our PSAs. People are talking about it more. We're sending out literature. I don't know why there's a segment of society who feels that they have no responsibility when they get behind the wheel of a car," Christine Care, MADD Avalon chapter president told St. John's Morning Show host Jeff Gilhooly in November.

Care is also concerned about the wide range in age of people the police are pulling over - some as young as 15. But she is particularly appalled by people who are in their late 30s to 50s because it's a group who should have been getting the message.

RNC Const. Paul Davis says it's hard to determine whether the increase in the number of stories is due to an actual increase in drinking and driving or increased police enforcement. He says when looking at statistics like those below, it's important to note that 2004/2005 was the year the first cadets graduated from a new recruiting program set up with Memorial University.

Charges for impaired operation for a motor vehicle and failing breathalizer for Royal Newfoundland Constabulary regions including Corner Brook, Labrador West and the Northeast Avalon:

2005 - 145
2006 - 288
2007 - 298
first ten months of 2008 (to Oct. 31) - 221

Christine Care said she also spoke to police about whether the recent increase was a only perception or real.

"It is their feeling that at the end of the year the stats are probably not going to have changed much, but the police presence has increased and people are calling 9-1-1 and that's what's got to happen. We need the public, we need the people out there who are the ones who are going to be affected, whose loved ones are being killed or injured to step up to the plate and say enough already," she said.

The situation was mixed as the Christmas season unfolded. In St. John's, two men died and a woman was sent to hospital after three vehicles collided on Columbus Drive near Blackmarsh Road in St. John's On Boxing Day. Police said alcohol was a factor.

On the brighter side, The RNC set up a series of road checkpoints over New Years where they stopped 850 people in Northeast Avalon region, 350 people in the Corner Brook area, and another 100 in Labrador. No charges were laid.

And, while the emphasis for many years has been deterring people who drink alcohol and drive, police have new powers to deal with people who are driving while under the influence of drugs.

On July 2, 2008, Bill C-2 came into effect. It gives police who suspect a driver of being impaired by any drug, illegal, prescription or over-the-counter, the right to demand the driver submit to testing which may include the breathalyzer, physical coordination tests and a demand for bodily fluid samples.