Road laws aren’t work­ing

The Compass - - OPINION - — Ron­ald Tiz­zard writes from Par­adise

Just be­fore noon, po­lice stopped a 33year-old im­paired driver, charg­ing him with a breach of court or­ders and sev­eral of­fences un­der the High­way Traf­fic Act. Of­fi­cers also dis­cov­ered the man was wanted un­der an out­stand­ing war­rant and owed over $ 8,000 in fines. His ve­hi­cle was im­pounded and he is in cus­tody await­ing a court ap­pear­ance. (That’s from VOCM news, June 10).

Re­ports of im­paired driv­ers be­ing pulled over by po­lice have vir­tu­ally be­come part of our daily break­fast diet in re­cent years, to the point we hardly raise an eye­brow any­more.

A few months ago, one rainy day, with noth­ing much else to do and likely sub­lim­i­nally mo­ti­vated by a break­fast news re­port of yet an­other im­paired driver stopped, tick­eted, court-ap­pear­ance date man­dated, and then — the al­most in­vari­able closer — that the driver al­ready owed the prov­ince many thou­sands of dollars for pre­vi­ous out­stand­ing fines, I Googled “Out­stand­ing im­paired driv­ing fines in NL.”

I spent some time read­ing through the repet­i­tive re­ports, i.e., in­di­vid­u­als pulled over by po­lice, im­paired, tick­eted, then the un­be­liev­able sec­tion — the un­paid fines. Im­paired driv­ers in this prov­ince col­lec­tively owe many hun­dreds of thou­sands of dollars. How does that get to hap­pen, re­peat­edly, the fines al­lowed to bal­loon, seem­ingly with­out fol­lowup or re­dress?

What’s the prob­lem, the prov­ince can’t find a use for the money? It doesn’t have the man­power to track down th­ese seem­ingly elu­sive of­fend­ers? So­lu­tion: from the mon­eys gar­nered from the col­lec­tion of out­stand­ing fines, hire a few spe­cial con­sta­bles to track down and pro­vide the out­stand­ing fine of­fend­ers a date with a spe­cial tempo- rary court/pay­ment of­fice at Fort Town­shend. This of­fice, if nec­es­sary, should be em­pow­ered to at­tach wages or other sources of in­come, and/or oth­er­wise pro­vide for ar­rest and jail time. Th­ese spe­cial mea­sures should pay for them­selves, from fines col­lected.

If noth­ing is done about th­ese “nosethumb­ing” in­stances of this prov­ince’s laws by im­paired driv­ers, one is moved to ask, who or what part of our jus­tice sys­tem is to blame? Again, if our jus­tice sys­tem has no ap­petite to col­lect on th­ese out­stand­ing fines, per­haps it would be open to turn­ing the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties over to a char­i­ta­ble col­lec­tive which could most cer­tainly use the money; and/or sim­ply “out” the of­fend­ers by pub­lish­ing their names in a spe­cial monthly sec­tion of The Tele­gram, and on the ra­dio sta­tions.

In any event, how­ever it’s done, th­ese driv­ers — bla­tant death threats, that’s what they are — should be re­moved from our roads and dealt with in the courts. Jail time should be doled out lib­er­ally, at the very least.

If there is no rec­og­niz­able at­tempt to do so, the fin­ger should be pointed at this prov­ince’s min­is­ter of jus­tice; the re­spon­si­bil­ity-buck and shame stop there. If laws need to ad­justed, do it, please. Cur­rent laws are not work­ing ef­fi­ciently, as demon­strated. Im­paired driv­ers are be­ing pulled in vir­tu­ally ev­ery day, but in this in­stance, we are more specif­i­cally speak­ing about the pre­vi­ously con­victed drunks who are not get­ting the mes­sage.

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