High numbers of impaired drivers on local roads have prompted two southern Ontario police forces to resort to public shaming as a potential deterrent.
York Regional Police and the South Simcoe Police Service, two forces operating slightly north of Toronto, said they've documented either stubbornly high or rapidly increasing instances of impaired driving in recent years
They said that since high-profile cases and public awareness initiatives have done little to curb the behaviour, they're reversing long-standing policies and beginning to identify those who wind up facing charges of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
South Simcoe Police said the move is temporary for now, lasting only through the month of December, but York regional police said their new approach is expected to stay in place indefinitely.
"We're really trying every possible avenue we have at our disposal because we haven't seen the numbers decreasing,'' Const. Laura Nicolle of the York Region force said in a telephone interview. "We really are at that place where we have to keep being aggressive. We can't allow it to go on.''
Nicolle said York Region officers have seen persistently high numbers over the past few years, adding at least 1,400 impaired driving charges have been laid in the region throughout 2018 alone.
The force said 27 of those charges came this past weekend, including some against a man alleged to have been driving with a blood alcohol content four times over the legal limit.
We really are at that place where we have to keep being aggressive. We can't allow it to go on.Const. Laura Nicolle, York Regional Police
Five fatalities in the past 11 months have done nothing to keep people from taking the wheel while under the influence, she said, adding even a particularly high-profile tragedy involving a drunk driver three years ago didn't bring people to their senses.
In September 2015, three young children and their grandfather were killed when Marco Muzzo slammed into the car they were travelling in while on his way home from a bachelor party. Muzzo ultimately pleaded guilty in the case, received a 10-year prison sentence, and had his parole application denied last month.
Nicolle said the force had hoped to see a decrease in impaired driving episodes in the wake of the Muzzo case, but said that never materialized.