MADD rolls out re­newed cam­paign

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - TREVOR WIL­HELM

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.”

DAX MELMER/POST­MEDIA NEWS

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.

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