New Year, old problem

Bonnie Learning
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MADD president says punishment not strong enough to deter impaired drivers

Shawn Crann, a funeral director in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and president of MADD Labrador chapter, said he has seen one too many victims of impaired driving over his career, and feels no parent should ever have to come se him to pick out a casket for their loved one. He urges the public to become more involved in reporting suspected impaired drivers.



It may be 2014, but even now there are people out there who are simply not getting the message about impaired driving.

That’s according to the President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Labrador chapter.

Shawn Crann said two recent cases in central Labrador involved a 25-year old man and 29-year old woman — in separate instances — picked up for impaired driving; the man was stopped on Jan. 1, and the woman on Jan. 5.

In the latter incident, RCMP stated in a press release that the woman was caught due to information provided by members of the community.

Crann said that needs to happen more often.

“I think the biggest weapon we have to fight impaired driving is the assistance of the general public,” he said.

“If you see someone driving erratically, report it to the police. The public needs to become more involved.”

Crann said trying to promote the message that impaired driving is not acceptable in this day and age is ‘like beating ones head against a brick wall,’ adding that one of the biggest reasons why impaired drivers still get behind the wheel — he feels — is because of lenient sentencing.

He says penalties need to be much harsher in order to keep impaired drivers off the roads, noting those who poach moose, for example, get bigger penalities than those who get behind the wheel while drunk or otherwise impaired.

“If someone poaches a moose, places it on their trailer, hooks the trailer to their truck and are caught, everything is confiscated and a lot of the time, they get jail time, “ said Crann.

“That is what needs to be happening to impaired drivers. Even if it’s a charge of impaired driving causing death, people just get a slap on the wrist.”

The Labradorian reviewed the provincial court docket and found that between Jan. 7 – 21, 2014, there were — and are— over a dozen people with over 35 impaired driving and impaired-driving related charges between them — and that was just between the Provincial Court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and the Circuit Court in Nain.

“I would hazard to guess that some of those people are repeat offenders,” noted Crann, when told of the number of charges to date.

Crann said MADD has been pushing for years for the interlock system to become a part of sentencing for convicted impaired drivers in this province, but it has yet to become a reality.

“This device should be installed on any vehicle belonging to someone convicted of impaired driving,” said Crann. “There should also be jail time and bans on driving.”

However, he notes, he doesn’t believe any sentence would deter some people from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, convicted or not.

“You hear of cases on the news all the time of people being picked up for impaired, in addition to driving without a license, without insurance, without registration, and so on,” said Crann.

“If impaired drivers got jail time, at least they would be off the roads.”

In addition to the frustration Crann feels as president of MADD in their attempts to educate the public about the effects of impaired driving, Crann also sees another, more devastating side.

“Every year, I see between two to three people that have died as a result of impaired driving, both drivers and passengers,” said Crann, who is the director of the local funeral home in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“No parent should have to come to me to pick out a casket for their loved one due to impaired driving.”

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