P.E.I. combats drunk driving hangover

It has been two years since judges in Prince Edward Island took the country’s harshest stance on impaired drivers—imposing mandatory jail time for virtually everyone convicted of being above the legal limit.


It has been two years since judges in Prince Edward Island took the country’s harshest stance on impaired drivers—imposing mandatory jail time for virtually everyone convicted of being above the legal limit. In Canada, eight per cent of those convicted of driving under the influence in 2011 served time in custody. In P.E.I., 93 per cent were sentenced to jail time. While the move was controversial, the judges claimed it was necessary for public safety.

Perhaps, but the province’s jails may be the ones hardest hit by the new approach.

Alanna Taylor, a Charlottetown defence lawyer, says it is “fairly typical” that one-third to one-half of cases going through the courts on any given day are impaired-driving charges. According to Statistics Canada, 28 per cent of all guilty cases in P.E.I. are for impaired driving, compared to 16 per cent elsewhere. With short jail terms now the norm even for first-time offenders, they’ve become commonly known as “weekenders,” and the provincial jails are feeling it.

Despite adding a wing in 2010, the province’s main jail, on Sleepy Hollow Road in northern Charlottetown, continues to be overcrowded. And the province even expanded a youth correctional facility in Summerside for overflow inmates.

Despite the almost inevitable prison sentences, the provincial rate of impaired driving has decreased only slightly—by three per cent—since 2010. Andrew Murie, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, says that a short jail sentence for a DUI is not enough disincentive. Going to jail for the weekend, he says, is a minor inconvenience, “but it’s no worse than going to a cousin’s wedding.”

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P.E.I. combats drunk driving hangover

  1. I would be interested to find out in a few years if this reduces drunk driving through reduced repeat offending. That three percent drop might seem small now, but what about the people who are specifically deterred through that weekend?

  2. Nothing will stop drunk driving except taking away these idiots cars. Drunks are going to drink and after a few drinks they don’t care what happens.
    It alway amazes me that despite all the public education and increased penalties that impaired driving is as prevelant as it ever was.
    The people who really profit from this are the lawyers. Many a layer have become filthy rich defending these drunks. The truth of the matter is the penalty for impaired driving is far more severe for being poor and drunk then rich and drunk.

  3. I dont know if statistically drinking and driving is down. visually its not. Im a card player and encounter numerous people drinking then driving home. Everyone thinks 2 or 3 beers is ok.

  4. Didn’t CBC run a series of stories a few years ago bent on proving to people that there wasn’t anything to the assertions of judicial activism….what the H&*&* are they talking about – what would you call this and furthermore is that what we hire judges to do…they are suppose to not bring their personal political and social prejudice into the court room. This is grounds for dismissal.

    • Ha ha, judges, like politicians don’t actually stick to the letter of their jobs. Instead they pursue their own personal vision of how things should go. Usually that means soft, left wing judges eat up the “poor me” excuses served up by the criminal and give them weak to non existent sentences. This is the only time I’ve heard of judges handing out harsher sentences…

  5. the is NO LAW against drinking and driving by the way. It is being impaired which is to have a BAC of over .08 that is against the law – two or three beers wouldn’t even be close to that. The problem in peoples perceptions is they all have an opinion but few people have any knowledge of what they speak.

    • Henry, you need to look into the mirror, your ignorance is showing. Three beers is more than enough to blow over. So, you’re either a misinformation troll, or your ignorant is extreme. FYI: What beer you’re drinking, matters a great deal due to the wide ranging levels of alcohol in different beers (and this fact accentuates your ignorance). You’re right about one thing, people definitely do have an opinion. Too bad their wrong opinions are countered by the facts.

      • SayWhatBro: Yes, 3 drinks is enough to blow over, depending on your body weight and time spent drinking. Spread it out over an evening and you’ll likely be fine, but don’t trust me, know your own limits, everyone is different.

      • I suppose if you were 80lbs you may be close to the limit with 3 beers but most people are much bigger than that today. Personal, I don’t drink at all but for my weight I could drink 6 beers before being at the limit. – There is a misconception tha time helps but it is the smallest of factors in BAC. The condition of your liver (health or not) has way more to do with it and that is why a standardized limit isn’t very accurate. Most people don’t clear the alcohol fast enough to be a factor so the total number of drinks is far more important.

        • henry21:
          After 6 beers, a 240 pound obese man would be at 0.09, just barely over the legal limit. At 200 pounds, 6 drinks would put you at .11, minus 3 hours of drinking, would bring him down to about .08, the legal limit.
          source: How Stuff Works, Encyclopedia Britannica

  6. Donk: It’s not just the number of drinks, but body weight, metabolism, and the time spent, it differs for everyone. How long are your card games?
    If your friends are 180-200 pounds, 3 drinks would put them at 0.06, but if it’s spread out over 3 hours, it’s more like 0.03. If larger, around 240 pounds, 3 drinks in 3 hours would have them at about 0.02.

    • clarification:
      drink = a 12 oz beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1 oz. of liquor

      • Minor correction: 1.5 oz of liquor (the 1oz thing is what some bars try to convince you is a shot)

        • Kenny: my information is based on Encyclopedia Britannica, yes, 1.5 oz. may be a standard drink, but this is how they make them equal

  7. Yes Andrew… “despite all the public education and increased penalties that impaired driving is as prevelant as it ever was” .. could that perhaps indicate that what is being done is NOT EFFECTIVE? It doesn’t work!
    By all means keep beating a dead horse… it might get up…???

    Do NOT learn from mistakes, just keep going, adjust the blinders as needed… focus…
    What was that famous quote about stupidity??? Someone that keeps doing the same thing over and over and expecting a differrent result??? Sound like the laws used to reduce drinking and driving the last 40 years??
    Well lets get really creative and adopt the MADD philosophy… keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Seems MADD is more designed to seek revenge than results as clearly displayed by their ‘definition of stupidity’ mantra. Though it does keep the executive on the payroll…

  8. Drinking and driving in Canada is legal. It is only when you are legally impaired that it becomes illegal. The strange thing is that once you are legally impaired, you are expected to make a legally intelligent discission that you can not drink. Wouldn’t it be smarter to change the law so that drinking and driving was illegal – even one drink. That way there would be no grey area; no problem understanding what the limit was – one drink would be to many.

  9. Given that PEI receives the highest transfer payments per capita in the country, outside of the territories, it’s actually the Canadian taxpayer that is paying for PEI’s jails. Pretty easy to put lots of people in the slammer when you’re spending somebody else’s money to do it.

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