30 Dec Prevent Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Written By: Charles E. Gluckstein, Managing Partner & Lawyer
We are reminded about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving during the holiday season. But while there may be more focus on the issue at this time of year, it is a year-round problem, and we can all do our part to help keep our roadways and our loved ones safe.
Many people look forward to this time of year. It’s a chance to reunite with family and friends at home. There are also seasonal social events and celebrations. We all need a release, especially in this time of a seemingly ceaseless pandemic. Your celebration might include alcohol or cannabis but, whatever you do, remember to do it safely and responsibly.
Even though we have made significant strides in reducing impaired driving incidents in recent years, it remains the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada, according to the Department of Justice. Thanks to the heroic efforts of such organizations as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), more people understand the senseless tragedy accompanying impaired driving.
Alcohol-Impaired & Drug-Impaired Driving Statistics
However, we cannot afford to let our guard down. In June, a national survey conducted on behalf of MADD Canada polled Canadians aged 18-70 with a valid driver’s licence. They were asked about alcohol and cannabis consumption or the use of a non-prescribed illicit drug and whether they had driven while under the influence. This is what MADD learned:
- Among the 67 per cent of drivers who used alcohol in the 30 days before the survey, one in 10 knowingly drove impaired at least once within the past six months.
- Among the 28 per cent of drivers who used cannabis in the preceding 30 days, two in 10 knowingly drove impaired at least once within the past six months.
- Among the nine per cent of drivers who used a non-prescribed illicit drug in the preceding 30 days, three in 10 knowingly drove impaired at least once within the past six months.
The past decade saw a downward trend in police-reported impaired driving rates. Sadly, incidences increased by 19 per cent in 2019 from 2018, resulting in as many as 155 deaths across the country.
We all know impaired driving can have devastating consequences. And let’s not forget about the dangers of distracted driving. Operating a motor vehicle comes with inherent responsibilities that require focus and attention.
Have Fun. Stay Safe. Plan Ahead.
When planning a night out that includes consuming alcohol or cannabis, arrange for a taxi or an Uber if you do not have a designated driver. Public transit is another option. Remember that even small amounts of alcohol or cannabis will impair your ability to drive. This is especially true if you are also taking a prescription medication that interacts poorly with alcohol.
Police are out there with the right to pull you over and issue a roadside sobriety test. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, you face an immediate licence suspension, fines, or even jail time if you fail a test or refuse to provide a breath sample. A conviction could cost you $23,000 or more, the ministry states. If you are convicted of impaired driving that causes death, you can be imprisoned for life.
If you are hosting a party and planning to offer alcohol or cannabis, encourage your guests to leave their cars at home. Provide snacks and alcohol-free beverages. Have water available and visible. Studies show people tend to drink more if they serve themselves, so it may be a good idea to designate a bartender to monitor alcohol consumption. Avoid over-serving. When guests are leaving, check to see if they can drive. If they don’t have a designated driver, arrange for a ride. You may also consider allowing them to spend the night.
What Can I do if I suspect an Impaired Driver?
If you are out on the roads, you may encounter a driver who is a danger to themselves or others. There are several ways to spot an impaired driver:
- drifting in and out of traffic;
- striking a curb, another vehicle or other objects;
- turning abruptly;
- driving on the wrong side of the road;
- erratic braking; or
- weaving across the road
Do not attempt to pass or stop the vehicle if you suspect impaired driving. It could put you at risk. Keep a safe distance and try to get details about the car, such as the make, model, colour and licence plate number. Using a hands-free device, call 911 and pass along the location and any pertinent information you have. If you do not have a hands-free device, pull over and make the call.
Impaired Driving Lawyers
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision with an impaired driver, call 911. If you have not been injured, try to get licence and insurance information from the other driver, and take photos of the accident scene, including any damage to all vehicles, the location of the cars in relation to one another, road signs and traffic signals and any other relevant details. Do not attempt to move anyone who is seriously injured. That may aggravate their injuries. Wait for help to arrive.
At Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers, our team of experienced impaired driving lawyers is committed to your wellbeing. If you have been injured due to the actions of an impaired driver, it is crucial that you speak to a lawyer. We are here for you, and no question is too small. Contact our law firm so we can plan your next steps.
Stay safe on the roads by not driving impaired and encourage others to do the same during this holiday season. And throughout the year.