In late 2018, York Regional Police began releasing the names of individuals charged with impaired driving. As reported by CTV, this move was out of hopes that the offenders’ fame would make others report them if they attempted to drive while their license was suspended.
Impaired driving remains a serious problem in Ontario – almost 160 motorists have already been charged with impaired driving in 2019 in Waterloo Region alone. However, the York police force’s approach was immediately a controversial move, with some Canadians enthusiastic about police cracking down on the impaired driving issue, and some concerned about government overreach.
The main criticism is that these individuals, that are suffering the effects of public humiliation by press releases, may all be charged with impaired driving but are not necessarily guilty.
The success or failure of the initiative has attracted attention both for its ‘chutzpah’, and because of the potential for police in other parts of Ontario to follow in the footsteps of their colleagues from York region.
However, seeing no apparent decline in impaired driving violations – and with concerns that some of those named are not even charged with impaired driving – the York Regional Police abandoned the policy on Tuesday.
This appears to the be the end of this experiment, but not the end of forceful efforts to deal with high rates of impaired driving.
Whether or not it is described in police press releases, the Canadian justice system is an open process. The names of any adult who is charged with a crime are part of the public record and – especially for those living in smaller communities – could appear on local news reports.