TIGNISH — A West Prince MLA who spent the Christmas and New Year’s festive season volunteering as a designated driver says society can accept nothing more than zero tolerance for impaired driving.
“It can happen at any time of the year, 24/7,” Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry said of drinking and driving.
Perry is meeting with the West Prince MADD Chapter to discuss possibly establishing an organization to provide a designated driver service in rural P.E.I., from one end of the province to the other, year-round.
Perry said the service he provided from Dec. 21 until the evening of Jan. 1 was really one of education and awareness. He said it shone a spotlight on the issue of drinking and driving and demonstrated options available.
“With education and awareness there should be no need for people drinking and driving,” said Perry.
But, he added, the statistics and the demographics are alarming. The majority of the offenders, noted Perry, are either under 25 or over 55, and many are repeat offenders.
“That should not be tolerated,” he said. “We as a society have an opportunity now to say, ‘no, we will not tolerate this anymore. Zero tolerance.”
The MLA said he provided transportation to more than 80 people during the festive season, up from 51 during the nights he provided the service the previous year.
“I have teenaged boys at home and I want to teach them there comes a responsibility with driving, there comes a responsibility with drinking." - Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry
New Year’s Eve was his busiest night both years and was even busier this year.
His passengers were appreciative of the service and supportive of the cause, Perry revealed.
Although he didn’t seek it, Perry said he had help this year, including a rental company that provided him with free use of a 2013 van for five nights, and people who helped cover his gas expense.
“I had one lady who insisted,” he revealed “She said ‘I lost my mother to a drunk driver and this would be my part in helping provide some service or help in saving another life’.”
Besides helping to ensure revelers had a sober ride home Perry wanted to provide an example.
“I have teenaged boys at home and I want to teach them there comes a responsibility with driving, there comes a responsibility with drinking,” he said.
“And not only don’t get behind the wheel if you’re drinking, but don’t get into a vehicle with a person who's behind the wheel who is drinking.”