Should lifetime driving bans be more common in Canada?

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Stats published by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police for Canada Road Safety Week last May show that road safety in Canada has generally improved over the past several years. As some car accident lawyers are likely aware, fatalities and serious injuries both declined between 2001 and 2016 even as the number of vehicles grew.

However, the stats also revealed several disturbing trends including the continued prevalence of dangerous and aggressive driving. According to the most recent available data, speeding contributed to 27 per cent of fatalities and 19 per cent of serious injuries on Canadian roads, more than drug or alcohol impairment.

Government bodies, safety advocacy groups, car accident lawyers and law enforcement agencies have gone to great lengths to warn the public about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving, with mixed success. But how can we reduce aggressive and reckless driving?

Globe and Mail contributor Andrew Clark proposed a novel solution in a February 2019 opinion piece: lifetime driving bans for serious offenders.

“Why shouldn’t people who drive dangerously be banned from driving for life?” he mused. “We’re not cutting off a limb. We’re not sending them to prison. We’re just saying “from now on, take the bus.”

Are lifetime bans necessary? To bolster his position, Clark offers several examples of convicted dangerous drivers who will, at some point, drive again. A 19-year-old Ontarian was caught going 246 km/h in a friend’s car; his licence was suspended for seven days and the car impounded for a week. Another driver was caught going 180 km/h on Southern Ontario’s Queen Elizabeth Expressway (QEW); he was fined $4,000 and received a 12-month driving ban. In Alberta, an individual serving an 11-year manslaughter sentence for a fatal hit and run recently had his lifetime driving ban reduced to 10 years. The reasoning? According to the judges of Alberta’s Court of Appeal, a lifetime ban for a person in their 20s was not realistic and served no “compelling” purpose.

“It does not depreciate the magnitude of his offence to recognize that the appellant will be a different person in the years to come and should be encouraged to live a constructive life then,” the decision read.

Not having a driver’s licence would be a major inconvenience for many Canadians, but it should not prevent a person from living a “constructive life.” Is it more important to ensure that dangerous drivers have a comfortable commute than to protect fellow road users from their potentially lethal behaviour?

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident our team of experienced car accident lawyers can help. Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.

Greg Neinstein
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