How to increase people’s perception that they will get caught if they drive while impaired

The certainty of sanctions and the objective probability of being arrested are the most effective ways to influence those drivers who are most likely to drive with a high blood alcohol content. Therefore, the very first thing to be done is to simplify police procedures and enforce the law to the fullest extent, particularly at the times and locations most at risk. This was the position Éduc’alcool stated in its briefs related to various bills intended to amend the Highway Safety Code.

This means increasing the number of police road blocks when there are most drivers on the road, i.e. during the busiest times of the evening and on the weekend, so that everyone gets used to seeing them on a regular basis, and gets to have the experience of being stopped themselves, as well as see and hear about people they know being stopped—all the time, not just occasionally.

It also means covering the times and places most at risk, such as the later hours of the evening on Friday and Saturday, and the areas around bars and licensed establishments, to the point where traffic flow is somewhat affected. Not all drivers have to be tested. The important thing is for everyone to see the roadblocks and feel that there’s a greater chance that they might be caught.

It is equally important that the public know that the number of roadblocks is being increased. They need to be told that there will two or three times the usual number, and there should be a lot of media coverage, so that everyone starts talking about it. Every time a roadblock is set up, the media should be contacted so they can tell the public when and where the roadblocks can be found.

The public should be informed about the number of arrests and cases being prosecuted. Crown prosecutors should demand the harshest sentences in every category and ask the courts to hand down exemplary sentences. They cannot be soft on such crimes.

Similarly, convictions must be publicized widely. In addition to increasing the frequency of controls and the likelihood of arrest, it takes serious sanctions, applied without delay.

Finally, huge awareness campaigns are absolutely essential throughout the year, to publicize the probability of being stopped and charged. Making the sanctions for impaired driving socially acceptable is a critical aspect of ensuring the effectiveness of the program. The topic must systematically and regularly top of the list of the public conversation agenda.

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