01/16/2013 11:22 EST | Updated 03/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Quebec to crack down on repeat impaired driving offenders

Quebec Justice Minister Bertrand St-Arnaud has ordered Crown prosecutors to get tougher on impaired drivers, and he wants those caught driving under the influence three times or more to spend more time behind bars.

"We want to send a clear message: impaired driving is a social scourge that compromises public safety," he said. "People who repeatedly commit these infractions represent a very serious danger."

Penalties for impaired driving are covered by the federal Criminal Code.

While St-Arnaud does not hold the power to change the law, he can send directives to Quebec's Crown prosecutors with regards to prosecution and recommendations for sentences.

At a news conference in Quebec City, St-Arnaud said he is urging Crown prosecutors to argue against early release for impaired drivers serving time behind bars.

He also called on the federal government to increase sentences and toughen the Criminal Code provisions when it comes to impaired driving.

He said one in three deadly car crashes in Quebec involve impaired driving.

Coalition Avenir Québec's justice critic Jacques Duchesneau said the government's intentions are good, but the he believes impaired drivers won't be scared off by the threat of more jail time.

The announcement comes following two fatal hit-and-runs in Quebecover the weekend.