Ontario police force begins naming, shaming accused impaired drivers

An Ontario police force has started naming and shaming all people charged with impaired driving by posting their names online.

York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe issued a statement Monday saying that the names will be released every Monday.

The police force’s first list shows 16 people charged between Nov. 30 and Dec. 3, along with their ages and hometowns. The list was shared on Twitter and Facebook. The people on it are charged but not convicted.

Jolliffe said the goal is “to further make impaired driving socially unacceptable and so that members of our community can assist with notifying police if these offenders choose to drive while under suspension.”  “Innocent lives are put at risk every day by this irresponsible and criminal behavior,” he added. “We are not giving up.”

Const. Andy Pattenden said the drivers involved “may be humiliated” but, he added, “they should be humiliated.”  “The choice that they made to drink alcohol or consume drugs and get behind the wheel is something that we all know is wrong,” Pattenden told CTV Toronto.

Pattenden highlighted the case of Marco Muzzo, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death after smashing into a minivan and killing three children from the Neville-Lake family and their grandfather in 2015.

“We really believed that when there was that horrible tragedy in Vaughan where the Neville-Lake kids were killed, and their grandfather, that just from the publicity and the horror of that event alone, the numbers would go down,” Pattenden said.

That didn’t happen. In fact, the number of people charged with impaired driving in York Region has risen from 1,200 to more than 1,400 in the past year.

CTV Toronto spoke to members of the public, who said they support the move.  “If they’re embarrassed of what they’re doing, then maybe it’ll stop them,” one man said.  “I think that it’s awesome,” said one woman. “Put the names out there,” she added. “People should be exposed.”

Not everyone online supports the move. One Facebook user asked if the police “will be apologizing just as publicly to those who are not convicted.”  “Guilty until proven innocent?” wrote another.

The new policy comes just two weeks before changes to the Criminal Code aimed at tackling impaired driving come into effect, including the elimination of the requirement that police have “reasonable suspicion” of alcohol-impaired driving before they can order roadside testing.

Other changes came into effect in June, including a new $1,000 minimum fine for those caught driving with 50 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood, or 2.5 nanograms or more of THC per millilitre of blood.

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