On Thursday, RCMP officers in this region hauled away two male motorists for alleged impaired driving. The first incident took place in Old Perlican, while the second was on Roaches Line, just off Veterans Memorial Highway.
It's not everyday that police in the Trinity Conception District nab two impaired drivers in one day, especially on a weekday. And what's even more troubling is the amount of alcohol alleged to have been consumed by the drivers.
Tests revealed the male accused in Old Perlican had a concentration of 160 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. That's twice the legal limit of 80 milligrams.
In the second incident, which involved a single motor vehicle collision, the driver's blood alcohol content was four times the legal limit, or 320 milligrams. An RCMP news released described the man's level of impairment as "shocking."
The only reassuring thing about these incidents is that in both cases, concerned citizens made reports to the police. We can also be thankful there were no injuries or, even worse, deaths.
Society has spoken very forcefully on this issue, and the message is clear: impaired driving, and its often devastating consequences, should not be tolerated.
The public uproar has led to greater enforcement by police and stiffer penalties from the courts. And there is now a growing call to give police the right to perform random breathalyzer tests at roadside stops.
But despite all the effort and daily grief and loss, the problem persists. According to MADD Canada, impaired driving claims between 1,250 and 1,500 lives and causes more than 63,000 injuries in Canada each year. That's a jaw-dropping statistic, since 100 per cent of these tragedies are preventable.
We only need to read some recent headlines to know the dangers.
Shane Mercer was killed in December 2010 in Wabush after being struck by a drunk driver. Mercer's fiancé, Leisa Penney, was also severely injured, and will forever carry the scars — both physically and emotionally — of that tragic incident.
The driver, Jeremy Reid, was recently given a four-year sentence, and had his driving privileges revoked for nine years upon his release from prison. The sentencing was followed by an outcry from Mercer's family, and those calling for even harsher treatment of those who drink and drive.
We should use these latest incidents in our region as a further reminder of the potential consequences of impaired driving, and the pain and suffering it can cause. Let's stay vigilant when it comes to reporting suspected impaired drivers, and do everything in our power to prevent family and friends from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. It's a stupid practice that could ruin yours and someone else's life.
It's a message that has made its way into the subconscious of most of us, but the statistics and the painful headlines prove we still have a ways to go before the problem is solved and these meaningless deaths and injuries are prevented.
— Terry Roberts