York Regional Police have issued a clarion call to would-be impaired drivers in the region’s nine municipalities: if you get caught behind the wheel after having one too many, your name and the impaired-related charges you face will be made public.
The York police service’s new naming-and-shaming policy follows closely on the heels of the more than 1,400 impaired-related charges it has laid so far this year. To date, five people have died in collisions in York Region where alcohol or drug impairment were contributing factors, York police said.
It is an initiative that York police first considered in early 2017 after a grisly year on the region’s roads in 2016 saw nine people killed by impaired drivers.
“It’s clear that something has to change,” York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe said today in a media release. “Effective immediately, York Regional Police will name all of the drivers charged with impaired-related criminal driving offences, to further make impaired driving socially unacceptable and so that members of our community can assist with notifying police if these offenders choose to drive while under suspension. Innocent lives are put at risk every day by this irresponsible and criminal behaviour. We are not giving up.”
MADD York Region president Katie Apreda welcomed the news.
“If someone thinks they are more important than everyone else and decides to drive impaired, then we should make them feel important and post their names everywhere, including at news organizations and on social media,” Apreda said. “I am sick of people hiding behind the justice system. I want more people to take this issue seriously. Don’t drive impaired!”
York police expressed frustration on its Twitter account this past weekend as 16 drivers were charged with 27 impaired-related criminal driving offences.
“Sad that the message is not getting through,” York Regional Police said to its 151,000 followers on the social media platform.
York police report that in one of the incidents that occurred Nov. 30 at 10 p.m., officers were called to Joshua Court in Richmond Hill for a report of a suspicious vehicle.
“The caller advised that there was a vehicle parked for over an hour blocking their driveway,” York police said. “As officers arrived, the vehicle began driving away and was stopped by police. Officers spoke with the driver who smelled of alcohol and a half-full bottle of vodka was observed in the centre console. The driver was placed under arrest and taken to #2 District Headquarters for a breath test where he blew four times the legal limit.”
The Newmarket community was rocked by an Oct. 26 crash that claimed the life of Newmarket wife and mother of three, Jenny Dixon, 41, as she was on her way home from her nursing job.
The GoFundMe Memorial Fund for Jenny Dixon has so far raised $84,030 of its $100,000 goal to support her children’s education. That sum was raised by 1,134 people within one month.
A 37-year-old Newmarket woman, Shanshan Xia, is charged with impaired driving causing death, drive over 80mg/alc in 100ml/blood causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and criminal negligence causing death.
York police join the South Simcoe Police Service in publicly naming alleged drug- or alcohol-impaired drivers, as that force announced Nov. 30 it would publish the names of people charged in a weekly wrap-up of RIDE checks.
“We need to change our approach to impaired driving and make is socially unacceptable to drive while impaired. Enough is enough!” South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher said in a media release.
In similar fashion, York police said it will post the names of those charged with impaired-related criminal driving offences every Monday in the media releases section of its yrp.ca website.
In a reader poll posted Dec. 2 at NewmarketToday, asking if the names of drivers charged with impaired in York Region should be made public, 88 per cent yes, while 12 per cent said no. More than 215 people responded to the informal survey.
The legal consequences of an impaired driving charge can include roadside vehicle impoundment and automatic driver’s licence suspension, as well as further consequences imposed by the courts, including longer licence suspensions, large fines and in some cases, jail time, York police said.
York police said it considers reports of suspected impaired drivers a life-threatening crime in progress and encourage the public to report driving behaviour that concerns them by calling 9-1-1 through the Safe Roads, Your Call program.
York Regional Police released the following names of drivers charged with impaired-related criminal offences Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2018: