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Alcoholism assessment a good cure for drunk driving

SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Nicholas Barry, a Saint John's addiction counsellor is convinced New Brunswick is neglecting th...


SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Nicholas Barry, a Saint John’s addiction counsellor is convinced New Brunswick is neglecting the most dangerous enemy in its battle to keep drunk drivers off the road.

Barry says justice for alcoholism is too focused on punishment and minimal treatment.

“If you’ve had one Breathalyzer, then chances are you’ve got a big problem,” Barry says. “And we should do something right then and there to prevent the second one.”

Barry considers having a drunk driving charge to be a symptom of alcoholism.

The independent counsellor and consultant working towards a Master’s Degree in social work, is proposing a mandatory alcoholism assessment of convicted drivers before they’re allowed to get back behind the wheel. It’s an initiative he says is working successfully in many jurisdictions across North America and as close as neighboring Maine and Nova Scotia.

“The judges and the police are all doing their best, but this is the missing ingredient,” he says. Barry explains New Brunswick not doing anything on the subject might be forgivable, if the program wasn’t working so well in so many other places. The province had 1,500 drinking and driving violations last year alone.


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