Every December it’s the same thing.

The RCMP and its partners launch a campaign against drunk driving.

The names have changed – from Operation Rednose until 2015 to Operation Gingerbread today – but the goal is still the same.

The police want to keep drunk drivers off the roads during the holiday season, when festive visiting and celebrating leads to an unfortunate increase in impaired driving.

It will be interesting to see if this holiday season of Covid-19 will actually mean a decrease in impaired driving. After all, there should be fewer opportunities for gatherings at which to drink too much and then get behind the wheel.

However, it’s likely that Covid-19 will make little difference. If some people don’t take enough care to avoid drunk driving, it’s doubtful they will be overly concerned about following Covid-19 restrictions.

So there will be drunk drivers again this Christmas, as at other times throughout the year, despite all the efforts to stop them.

That is a disheartening thing to say. After all, who doesn’t know that impaired driving is illegal, reckless and dangerous?

For many years – perhaps generations – there have been public service messages against impaired driving on our televisions. Is there anyone in Canada who hasn’t seen the messages from Arrive Alive Drive Sober or from Mothers Against Drunk Driving?

Those groups, along with the RCMP and other police forces, have done a great job in spreading the message that impaired driving is dangerous and could be deadly.

More than that, the public education campaigns have also changed attitudes towards drunk driving.

As hard as it is to imagine today, there was once a time when impaired driving was not as condemned by society as it is now. It was always illegal, but it was not uncommon to hear people almost proudly telling stories about how they drove home even though they were feeling drunk.

Thankfully those days are gone, but drunk driving is still here.

So what are we to do when some people still drive while impaired, even after decades of public education, police enforcement and even somewhat stricter penalties?

It would seem that there is not much more you can do with public education.

And enforcement seems to be at its limit. There are already check stops during the Christmas season and a few years ago the police were given the power to demand a breath sample from a motorist during any legal traffic stop.

So the only thing left seems to be increased deterrence, or punishment if you will, for anyone who is irresponsible enough to drive while impaired.

Society has been more than patient with impaired drivers. They have been sufficiently educated, advised and warned. It’s almost as if society is now begging them to stop.

Unfortunately, some people are going to drive drunk no matter what they are told, and even when they know it is morally wrong, illegal and dangerous to themselves and others.

At this point, the law has to become stricter, because it seems nothing else is going to stop drunk drivers.

Maybe tougher laws will catch their attention.

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1 Comment

  1. Stronger penalties will do nothing, as long as there remains a slim chance of getting caught and convicted. We believe that up to 35% of drivers on the road after 10:00 pm, are impaired by alcohol or drugs.
    Police road checks catch few impaired drivers because shortly after the road checks are set up, there are people on social media who announce where the road checks are located therefore resulting in most offenders avoiding the police road checks.
    The other problem is our courts, where it is difficult to obtain a conviction against an impaired driver.

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