Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry back on designated driver duty

Ryan Ross
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A supporter has a hug for Hal Perry after he narrowly defeatedLiberal cabinet minister Neil LeClair to take the District 27,Tignish-Palmer Road seat for the Progressive Conservatives.

A lot of people talk about how others shouldn’t drink and drive, but for Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry he’s putting his money where his mouth is.

Every year for the last three years, Perry has volunteered to be the designated driver for anyone who has been drinking and needs a lift in his riding.

Perry said there were a lot of reasons why he started offering his services as a designated driver. Those included giving back to the community, raising awareness of the serious issue of drinking and driving, and setting a good example for his two teenage boys so they won’t end up in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable now at all and I don’t think it should be,” he said.

During that first year, Perry started offering to drive people in the fall leading up to the holiday season and he said he gets a few calls between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

His busiest time is New Year’s Eve taking people to and from parties followed by trips around the levee circuit the next day.

The peak hours are between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and then it picks up again around 2 a.m., he said.

“It can go until around 6:30 in the morning.”

Since he started that routine, it has grown to cover other events throughout the year, such as the Tuna Cup Challenge for the last two years.

Perry said when he started offering to drive people, he had his own van, but last year he rented one because his Toyota Matrix wasn’t quite big enough for larger groups.

“Generally it’s four people at a time,” he said.

As for the people he picks up, Perry said they are very courteous and thankful he’s offering the service.

“They do think it’s good and worthwhile,” he said.

While many people would prefer to be the ones doing the drinking instead of being a sober driver, Perry said it’s a great way for him to socialize and he prefers to be volunteering than taking part in an event.

“I love that part of it.”

Perry estimates he has driven several hundred people around since he started offering his designated driver service.

It’s all about making the roads safer for everyone, he said.

“If I can take one impaired driver off the road and that potential hazard, then this whole effort has been worthwhile.”

And while he encourages others to follow his example, Perry knows of at least one person who has: his 17-year-old son.

Last year his son went to prom as a designated driver, which Perry said impressed him.

“He was quite proud of that.”

Although Perry offers the service for free, he said some people insist on giving him money, which he plans to donate to a resident in his riding who needs a medical lift chair.

Anyone who needs a designated driver in the Tignish area this holiday season can call Perry at 882-5631.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Geographic location: Tignish

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