• Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Lawmakers struggle to close legal loopholes on impaired driving

While efforts have been made to promote the dangers of impaired driving, alcohol-impaired driving remains the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. The CBC recently posted an article on this subject.

In 2010, Ontario implemented zero Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) rules for young drivers and new motorists of all ages. Kathleen Wynne, Transportation Minister at the time, was quotes: “It is unfortunately young people who are often most at risk if we talk about drinking and driving”.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), “Young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury per capita among all age groups and the highest death rate per kilometer driven among all drivers under 75 years of age. More 19-year-olds die or are seriously injured than any other age group.”

The federal government has increased the severity of sentencing for drunk drivers over the past decade; it hasn’t had an impact on incidents. In fact, impaired driving incidents have increased from 85,997 in 1999 to 90,227 in 2011.

“What most people don’t realize is that Canada has a terrible track record in terms of impaired driving death and injury relative to comparable democracies,” says Robert Solomon, a professor of law at Western University and the national director of legal policy for MADD Canada.

One recommendation that has been adopted by other developed nations is random breath testing. In fact, of the 34 member states of the OECD, only Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. haven’t adopted this method.  In Australia, since adopting random breath testing, alcohol-related crashes fell by nearly 35 percent.

However, there still remains the issue of a legal loophole that some doctors refer to as “get-out-of-jail free card.” Currently, if an injured driver is in need of medical attention, they are immediately taken to the hospital. Afterwards, a patient is well within their rights to walk out of the hospital and go home. According to Dr. Brett Belchetz, an emergency room physician in Toronto, “In some instances patients brought in after a collision are able to leave the hospital before police have the chance to question them.”

Impaired driving is a serious and one that the province needs to take more seriously.  If you or a loved one has been hit by a drunk driver or injured in a drinking and driving accident, call Diamond & Diamond Personal Injury Lawyers, Ontario Wide, at 1-800-567-HURT (4878) for professional guidance on how to proceed.

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