News release

A Drink Can Be Very Expensive

'Tis the season to be merry, but celebrate responsibly.

That's the message from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations as the holiday season unfolds.

"Quite apart from the danger they create, people who drink and drive face severe penalties including fines, loss of driving privileges and jail time," said Paul Arsenault, registrar of Motor Vehicles.

The cost of taking a taxi, staying in a hotel or having a designated driver may seem high, but it's inexpensive when compared to the cost of a drunk-driving conviction.

Penalties have increased in Nova Scotia over the last couple of years, with fines ranging from $600 to $2,000.

First-time offenders lose their driver's licence for a year; additional convictions within 10 years carry longer losses of driving privileges. Upon a fourth conviction, the driver's licence is revoked permanently, and the offender could go to jail for up to five years.

Before any driver can apply to have a revoked licence reinstated, they must complete an Addiction Services assessment program, which costs them $365. There is also a $100 licence-reinstatement fee.

And as the province has increased its penalties for impaired driving, it has also increased prosecutions. For the year ending March 31, 2001 alone, prosecutions were up more than 11 per cent.

"Police are catching more impaired drivers and the courts are getting tougher with people who drink and drive. There seems to be less tolerance and less public sympathy for drunk drivers," said Mr. Arsenault.

The cost to the individual convicted of drunk driving is high, but the cost to society is higher and rising. Nova Scotia saw 537 alcohol-related collisions in 2001, according to the Department of Transportation and Public Works. That year, 25 people died and 344 were injured in alcohol-related collisions. There were 527 collisions which resulted in 25 deaths and 372 injuries in 2000.

"The amount of alcohol that causes impairment varies from person to person, sometimes from day to day," said Mr. Arsenault. "People can register between .05 and .08 on a breathalyser after only one drink. A driver who blows in that range faces a 24-hour roadside licence suspension when they're pulled over. When a driver registers .08, they are legally drunk and face the full brunt of the law."

FOR BROADCAST USE:

'Tis the season to be merry, but celebrate responsibly says the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

In the past year, Nova Scotia's Justice Department prosecuted 11 per cent more drunk drivers.

Impaired drivers face fines of up to two thousand dollars, a 365-dollar addiction-treatment program, a 100-dollar licence -reinstatement fee and loss of driving privileges.

Additional convictions carry stiffer penalties, including the permanent loss of driving privileges.

Alcohol tolerance varies from person to person and from day to day. One drink can put someone over the limit.

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Contact:

Kevin Finch
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations 902-424-2733 E-mail: