Fredericton – The New Brunswick New Democratic Party is calling for the Province to adopt tougher impaired driving measures including the use of a roadside drug impairment detection device. NDP Fredericton North candidate Brian Duplessis said the changes are necessary to help make New Brunswick’s roads and highways safer.
“This is about saving lives, plain and simple,” Duplessis said. “We have evidence that these measures, when adopted by other provinces, had a significant impact in reducing deaths and arrests caused by impaired driving.”
The new measures the NDP is calling for include:
1. The implementation of roadside drug-impaired driving detection devices for law enforcement officers and automatic licence suspensions for failed tests.
2. Mandatory alcohol ignition interlocks for any impaired driving conviction.
3. An increasing scale license suspension and vehicle impoundment program for subsequent convictions.
The use of roadside detection devices will help address the increasing problem of drug-impaired driving instances. According to a report by MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie, drug impaired driving accounts for only 1.9% of overall impaired driving charges. Yet according to a recent study, one-third of young Canadians believe driving while impaired by drugs is safer than driving while impaired by drinking.
“With the trend towards legalizing marijuana occurring in other jurisdictions in North America, we feel this is something that needs to be in place now.” Duplessis said. “We also believe there should be a seven day automatic licence suspension upon failing a roadside test.”
Duplessis said the same rationale applies to the call for mandatory ignition locks for any alcohol-related impaired driving conviction. Currently New Brunswick is one of only two provinces with no mandatory program for the devices which prevent a driver from starting his or her car unless their blood alcohol content is below a certain threshold.
“It’s not about imposing a punishment – it’s about putting into practice an effective and reliable tool that is proven to reduce recidivism and fatalities,” he said. “We need only look to New Mexico where mandatory interlocks reduced fatalities by 35%.”
Duplessis said the Province also needs to address the fact that it is the only one in Canada that doesn’t have an increasing scale licence suspension program. Both Alberta and British Columbia have introduced vehicle impoundment penalties that increase in length with multiple convictions. British Columbia saw its effort reduce fatalities by nearly 50% between 2010 and 2012 after implementing these measures.
“In New Brunswick, you lose your license for seven days upon arrest whether it is your first offense or your fourth and that just doesn’t make any sense,” Duplessis said. “We need to get in line with best practices in other provinces and increase the licence suspension duration and implement the seizure of vehicles.”