MADD rolls out renewed campaign
WINDSOR — Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Crime Stoppers are joining forces urging people to report suspected drunk or stoned drivers — including those who might have driven impaired weeks or months ago.
It’s what one Windsor defence lawyer calls a “snitch line.”
The effort is part of the Canada-wide Campaign 911, which the organizations are trying to bring more attention to before marijuana is legalized next week.
Even if you saw someone driving impaired six months ago, said Chaouki Hamka with MADD Windsor & Essex County, it’s still “absolutely” a legitimate concern.
“If you see there is criminal activity like impaired driving, there’s nothing wrong with calling and reporting it,” said Hamka. “If it’s five days later and someone says I should call Crime Stoppers or I should call police and report it, there’s no issue with it.
“If it’s somebody who is habitual and is not committing the act at that moment but you know they drive impaired on a regular basis — or they’ve even done it two or three times — whatever the case is.”
Hamka said Campaign 911 is an effort to “encourage and empower” people to report suspected impaired driving. If you see a suspected impaired driver behind the wheel, said Hamka, you should call 911. If you believe someone has driven drunk or stoned in the past, he wants you to call Crime Stoppers.
Impaired driving kills an average of 3.5 Canadians every day, according to MADD Canada. Another 207 people are hurt.
Hamka said the local MADD chapter rolled out the Campaign 911 program a couple years ago. But organizers are renewing it ahead of marijuana becoming legal Oct. 17.
MADD is also partnering with Crime Stoppers to encourage people to report possible impaired drivers after the fact.
Brian Ducharme, a Windsor defence lawyer who specializes in drunk driving offences, said that request is troubling.
“To snitch on someone who drove drunk before, to snitch on them today when the time has passed, I don’t think that is appropriate at all,” he said.
“You shouldn’t be calling the police for something that might be committed. You should be calling the police if you think there is a crime being committed. But you shouldn’t be snitching. It shouldn’t be a snitch line for saying I know a certain person who drinks and drives, you shouldn’t just do that. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
Windsor police Sgt. Steve Betteridge stressed that if you see someone you suspect is driving while impaired, you should call 911 immediately. But he also said if the Windsor Police Service receives a call or tip through Crime Stoppers about someone who previously drove under the influence, there will be an investigation.
“That would be investigated just like any Crime Stoppers tip of any crime,” he said.
He wouldn’t give details about what such an investigation might look like or whether police would step up patrols in a certain area.
“Each case is unique and specific and would depend on the circumstances at hand,” said Betteridge. “It would depend on exactly what was going on and what information we had.”
Chaouki Hamka, community leader with MADD - Windsor and Essex County, encourages people to report impaired drivers after the fact. MADD is partnering with Crime Stoppers as pot legalization approaches to renew Campaign 911. The campaign encourages people to report suspected impaired drivers.