Police, first responders banding together to curb drinking and driving this holiday season

Nancy MacPhee nmacphee@journalpioneer.com
Published on December 11, 2012
East Prince RCMP Const. Steven MacNeill (left), Kensington police Const. Kim Mullett, Island EMS senior operations paramedic John Steele, Summerside police Const. Brett Bursey, Kensington police Const. Craig Murphy, Albin Arsenault of Island Towing and East Prince MADD member David Griffin are encouraging Islanders not drink to drive this holiday season. Police agencies throughout Prince County will be beefing up enforcement over Christmas and New Year’s.
Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE — Telling a family their loved has been killed by a drunk driver is one of the hardest things a police officer has to do, says David Griffin.

“It’s very traumatic for police officers to go to these scenes. These serious injuries and deaths are very hard to deal with,” said Griffin, who is retired from the Summerside police force and now volunteers with the East Prince chapter of MADD. “It’s very, very difficult thing to tell the families.”

It’s something he hopes no first responder will have to do this holiday season.

“These first responders are working 24-7. They are the ones that are first called and first on the scene,” added Griffin. “They are the ones that see the real tragedies, the serious injuries and the deaths.”

MADD, East Prince RCMP, Kensington and Summerside police departments, Island EMS and Island Towing are encouraging Islanders to make their job easier this holiday season by leaving their car parked after having a few drinks.

Law enforcement agencies in Prince County will be out in full force in the coming weeks conducting integrated roadside checks, one of which was held late last week.

In 2011, seven of the 17 fatal collisions on P.E.I. involved alcohol.  Of the nine fatal crashes on Island roads so far this year, five involved alcohol.

“The biggest message, of course, is don’t drink and drive. Right now, we’re really pushing the fact that if you see an impaired driver or suspect an impaired driver, call 911,” said Griffin. “Use a designated driver, walk, take a taxi or stay if you are going to be drinking.”

Over the weekend, Kings County RCMP arrested two impaired drivers, pointing out in one incident it would have cost one driver $20 to take a cab home.

Now, if convicted, that person could be fined a minimum of $1,000 and lose his driving privileges for at least a year.

Griffin said the number incidences of impaired driving are troublesome, noting that P.E.I. has the third highest rate of convictions for drunk driving in the country.

“MADD across Canada recognizes that impaired driving causing serious injury or death is a very serious problem,” he added. “We’re trying to change that through our efforts and, hopefully, it is going to work.”