With the holiday season in full swing, social gatherings, parties and various other celebratory functions will be the norm across P.E.I. for the next several weeks.
And, most likely, alcohol will be involved.
Yes, spirits will be high and ‘spirits’ will have some feeling high and unable to drive.
That’s why the East Prince chapter of MADD is urging Islanders to support its Project Red Ribbon campaign and make the commitment not to drink and drive.
By tying a red ribbon to the antenna or car keys, supporters show their commitment and also remember those who lost their lives or were injured in impaired driving crashes.
One of the unfortunate victims of someone else’s decision to get behind the wheel drunk is Elizabeth Ann Sovis.
The 63-year-old Alberta woman was cycling along Rennies Road near Hunter River with her husband, Edmund Aunger, on a bright July day when a drunk driver struck her down. Sovis died at the scene, in her husband’s arms.
That drunk driver was 49-year-old Clarence Arnold Moase of Kensington, a man who had four previous convictions for impaired driving.
With a half-empty bottle of vodka in his van, Moase, who was almost three times the legal limit, didn’t brake or veer to avoid Sovis. After striking her, he drove a half kilometre before turning around and returning to the scene.
Tuesday, the businessman, father and husband, who has been behind bars since the tragic fatal accident, was sentenced to serve another five and a half years in federal prison. Once out, he will never be allowed to drive again.
Each year, between 1,250 and 1,500 Canadians are killed and more than 63,000 injured in impaired driving crashes.
Last year, seven of the 17 fatal collisions on P.E.I. involved alcohol. This province has the third highest impaired driving rate in the country.
Moase’s decision to get behind the wheel, again, while impaired was wrong. It was a decision that changed forever Edmund Aunger’s life, took the life of his beloved and has forever changed Moase’s life, that of his wife and children and devastated the Island community.
Why, despite knowing the perils of impaired driving, the consequences and cases such as this, do Islanders continue to make the conscious decision to get behind the wheel drunk?
It’s a question that MADD’s Gloria McNeill, and the countless others who lost loved ones to impaired driving, continue to ask themselves.
The message is clear — don’t drink and drive.
So, this holiday season after having a few drinks at a staff party or at a gathering at a friend’s home, call a cab, arrange for a designated driver or simply stay put.
No one wants to be behind bars or see their loved one in a morgue this Christmas.