Repeat Drunk Drivers are a Problem

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The rate of impaired drivers in Ontario has dropped over the last three decades which is good news for everyone. The penalties for impaired driving are becoming harsher and more immediate, including road side seizure of cars and suspension of licences.

There is a small group for whom no penalty seems enough to stop them from repeating the offence. Reports from different jurisdictions in North America report that the repeat offender rate for people with drunk driving convictions is between 12-47% . For these people alcohol addiction tends to be a major contributing factor to their driving problems. Suspending licences does little to stop them from getting behind the wheel of the car. Police currently have few tools to catch these drivers, fewer still to keep them from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

Court diversion to special rehabilitation and intensive alcohol treatment programs would be helpful according to some. In jurisdictions in the USA this seems to be promising being much cheaper than jail terms and also reducing recidivism. Ignition interlocks which are thought to reduce recidivism by 50-905 have not been embraced in Canada yet either.

Reducing repeat offenders will take a social and judicial effort we have yet to see in Canada.  With impaired driving being the number one cause of criminal death in the country it is time for a better effort.