Last week in New Brunswick, a Hampton Judge sent a clear message to drunk drivers; after July 1, first-time offenders will face jail time (Judge to jail impaired drivers). This is after he already doubled the fine from $1000 to $2000 months ago. Judge Henrik Tonning said he was sick of impaired driving cases taking up 50% of his court’s precious time.
I applaud the judge for taken a bold step in the right direction. Maybe if impaired drivers get the message the first time around, they will learn their ways before killing someone. One can only hope.
I did however find it interesting that the judge doesn’t state how much jail time. In other New Brunswick courts, judges have started imposing jail time, along with the usual one-year driving suspension and $1000 fine, on cases with aggravating circumstances such as someone being grossly over the legal limit, others injured etc. The jail term varied from two to ten days.
So I wonder what the jail term will be from Judge Henrik Tonning? Is ten days enough to send a message home; to wake someone up; to get their attention enough to change their ways? According to MADD Canada, a person would have to drive impaired, on average once a week, every week, for more than three years before being charged with an impaired driving offence, and for over six years before ever being convicted.
By the time they’ve been arrested, the research shows they’ve driven impaired anywhere between 80 and 2,000 times.
Makes you kind of wonder what we are up against, doesn’t it? By the time someone gets caught for impaired driving, haven’t they likely gotten away with it for so long they think themselves invisible? Will ten days in jail really change anything? And if not, then what?
This Hampton Judge says that impaired driving cases now take up 50% of his cases. MADD Canada says that every single day four people die while 190 are injured due to an impaired driver.
Will any amount of jail time really get this thing under control or are we beyond that? What will make the difference?