When it comes to the dangers of drinking and driving, Islanders seem to slowly be getting the message as P.E.I. showed a drop in the number of convictions for the third year in a row.
Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said the government is making addressing the issue of impaired driving a priority and it seems to be working.
“It’s encouraging,” he said.
The latest numbers released Thursday showed there were 297 convictions for impaired driving in P.E.I. in 2013, which was down from 327 the previous year.
Of those convictions, 169 were first-time offenders and 53 were on their second conviction, both of which were down from the previous years.
Where the province saw an increase was in the number of people who faced their third conviction or more in 2013.
That number rose from 65 in 2012 to 75 in 2013 and Vessey said chronic offenders were still an issue.
“Those numbers aren’t reducing the way I’d like,” he said.
Vessey said the public has played a big part in reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road, in part through a campaign to encourage Islanders to call 911 if they suspect someone is impaired.
“Those calls have really skyrocketed and those calls are turning into convictions,” he said.
P.E.I. has seen a gradual decrease in the number of drunk driving convictions over the years.
In 1980, there were 1,570 convictions.
Islanders also face some of the stiffest penalties for drunk driving with almost automatic jail time for a first conviction while Statistics Canada reported that in 2010-2011 eight per cent of convictions nationally ended in a jail sentence.
The provincial government also made changes to legislation that included mandatory use of the ignition interlock.
Another option the government is planning to tackle the issue is the introduction of a licence plate that would identify frequent offenders to police in a discreet way.
Vessey said he hopes to introduce them this spring or fall.
“We’re still looking at that as an option,” he said.