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We don’t hear much news from ‘The Gentle Island’. What do they do over there when they’re not picking potatoes off trees or erecting temples for Anne of Green Gables? Apparently, they drink and drive. In light of PEI’s new “special licence plates for drunk drivers” program, we took a look at some of the stats to see just how dangerous the red dirt roads have gotten, and whether a licence plate will have any effect.

As far as drinking rates go, PEI is pretty average. However, they’re the second-most likely province to get behind the wheel after their hearty island kitchen party. The impaired driving rate on the Island is twice the national average.


Looks okay, until you ignore the territories.Stats Canada

Looks okay, until you ignore the territories.
Stats Canada


When compared to only the Atlantic provinces, PEI is flying high. If they ain’t stormstayed, they’re determined to hop in the truck/tractor/snowmobile and get back onto the red dirt roads.


Number one and still climbing!Stats Canada

Number one and still climbing!
Stats Canada


When it comes to discipline for PEI’s rampant serial drunk drivers, things get weird. Impaired driving takes up a whopping 1/4 of all adult court cases in PEI. It’s about the most trouble you can get into on an Atlantic island with 50 people, some potatoes, and a redheaded orphan.


I mean, what else do people do?Stats Canada

I mean, what else do people do?
Stats Canada


So, you want to stir things up and look like a badass jailbird for your friends? Grab some home-brewed ‘shine, steal the keys to your dad’s truck, and take a spin down University Avenue.

Lock 'em up, all of 'em!Stats Canada

Lock ’em up, all of ’em!
Stats Canada


Over 90% of impaired drivers on the Island are taken into custody. It’s the classic end to a good night!

“From aways”, take warn. Drunk driving is a sure-fire way to get yourself off the red-sand beaches of Cavendish and into the barracks of Sleepy Hollow (non-Islander translation: jail).

With the stakes so high, why aren’t people dissuaded from impaired driving? Why are Islanders still topping drunk driving stats? Why are we seeing multiple repeat offenders? Surely, drunk driving and going to jail isn’t that much of a rush.

Wait, if we lock 'em all up there'd be no one left to feed the tourists! Let my people go!Stats Canada

Wait, if we lock ’em all up there’d be no one left to feed the tourists! Let my people go!
Stats Canada

Maybe it’s because we’re being soft and letting them out before they’ve learned their lesson. The median sentence is only 5 days, the shortest (by far) in Canada. We get it; if you put the entire island behind bars, there’s no one to pick potatoes or tap dance for tourists. However, you really have to question whether 5 days is enough to stop people from impaired driving again (hint: it’s not).

DUI laws in PEI are low-impact. Between a BAC of 0.05 and 0.08, you get away with only a 24h licence suspension on your first offence. Above 0.08, you face a minimum 3-day jail sentence along with a fine, 1-year suspension, Driver Rehab, and ignition interlock. With so many repeat offenders, you have to question the disciplinary action.



Where do the new special licence plates fit into this? The plates are designated for third-time offenders, letting them get out of the ignition interlock program sooner. A Charlottetown police chief says they’ll help “keep these chronic offenders off our roadways and increase safety for everyone”. PEI, with such high impaired driving rates and sentences that are out-of-sync with the rest of Canada, do you really think focusing on getting third-time offenders out of the interlock program and into a special licence database is the best plan?

Based on the stats, Islanders should be investing in curbing first-time offences and impaired driving in general, rather than lessening already-lax sentences for repeat offenders. Instead, I guess we’ll settle for public shaming in the form of license plates for now.

  • islander

    When do potatoes grow on trees lol??

    • Arielle VanIderstine

      Once again, this is satire! I’m from the Island, and trust me, I know my potatoes.

  • islander

    Last I checked they grew in the ground and apples grow on trees!

    • Arielle VanIderstine

      Satire; it’s a joke! I’m from PEI, I’ve harvested enough potatoes to know!

  • country boy

    you dumb cunt!

    • Arielle VanIderstine

      Sorry buddy, fellow islander here. Satire is made for joking and such.

  • Chelsey Phillips

    As an islander, I find the demeanor of whomever wrote this offensive. We are not a bunch of drunken hillbillies trying to play drunken bumper cars. To warn tourist of how dangerous we are on the roads and go with caution, is being pretty dramatic. There are too many cases drunk driving I will admit. However, one case is too many! The problem with the island is the lack of public transportation. In cities and urban areas there are plenty of ways to get home safely. The island however, is mostly rural. Up west has no cabs to call when they’re drunk, nor buses to hop on to take them home. That is why your statistic say we drink an average amount but driving impaired is double the national average! Do not make us out to be a bunch of rowdy drunks with utter disregard and disrespect for human life! This article is like a horse with blinders on. Only able to see the problem that’s infront of them, not seeing all the others surrounding.

    • Ashley

      Drunk driving is a problem that affects everyone surronding it. You may not drive and drive but you could be the next victim. As for no cabs? have a DD. if everyone is not a bunch of drunken hillbillies it shouldn’t take that long to find a friend who will DD for you for the night

      Grow up, and stop attacking the writer

      • Arielle VanIderstine

        Hey Chelsea, I’m an islander too, but do note that this is satire! We take the facts and make them amusing. Not intended to be taken seriously.

      • Chelsey Phillips

        Are you all stupid? Laughing when someone is making fun of you all? Thinking some special license plate is going to deter drunk driving. Do you think I am making an excuse for drunk driving? Because I’m not. I’ve had family members killed by drunk diving. I’m against it. I’m saying there needs to be proper forms of transportation. As per having a DD, ha good with that. A DD is a rare breed. You are more apt to find a unicorn. Telling me to grow up, how about you look further past your own nose and see the real picture! And BTW, Arielle, my name is spelled Chelsey.

        Thank you, and goodnight! :-)

    • Drifter Ramirez

      This is a stupid comment. Just stupid. The facts are completely separate. If you drink, you stay put or get someone to pick you up.

    • disqus_jg5EraOsr1

      Offensive? Really? How about you stop coming up with excuses. You may want to get down off that “horse with the blinders on” because it seems to be awful high. It doesn’t matter how rural the Island is, wrong is wrong, no excuses. My personal preference would be a 2 strikes and you’re out policy. If this article offends you I am going to make an assumption that you are one of the people who claim offence to just about everything that you disagree with. Do you also find Just Passing Through and the like to be offensive? I’m guessing yes?

      • Chelsey Phillips

        Oh god if you are too stupid to see what I’m trying to say then just piss off. Ya can’t fix stupid, and ya can’t argue with it either.

  • Drifter Ramirez

    I know this is satire, but this is terribly written. And placing a bunch of unlabelled graphs does nothing. Go back to school.

    • Emily

      They’re all explained in the actual text. Read the whole thing.

      PS. Your second phrase is a sentence fragment. Go back to school.

      • Drifter Ramirez

        They aren’t actually all explained.

        I’m not the one claiming to be a real writer I’m posting comments. This is slander masquerading as information. She’s more interested in people’s reactions to her inflammatory comments than she is in eliciting a meaningful response to the issues. The internet is full of this garbage.

        Note: I don’t disagree with anything she said. However her execution was terrible.

        • Emily

          If you’re looking for the original info, check out the StatsCan source. This is satire, that’s what it does.

          • Drifter Ramirez

            This barely qualifies as satire.

          • Emily

            Check out the facts on what site you’re actually on before commenting then.

          • disqus_jg5EraOsr1

            Satire: “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.”

            Looks pretty cut and dry.

  • Guest

    I understand that this is meant to be satire, but when you think of all the people that drunk driving accidents have affected on our little island, it’s not something to joke about in any way, shape or form. It is a serious problem that has devastated so many. How you can even make it into a “joke” of sorts is beyond offensive to those of us who know the tragedy that is truly is. Shame on you.

  • Dylan Sampson

    I was able to laugh at this but it also did make me think how terrible it is that we are known for red dirt, Anne, and drinking and driving. Something obviously needs changing and I love how this article brings out that fact in a humorous way, cause people are tired of just reading boring stats. Thank you!

  • Katelyn Gill

    I’m an islander, and a teenager at that. I think that the satirical approach is a great way to broach a subject such as this one in a way that teens – a population that is highly affected by driving under the influence – will actually appreciate. I’m not interested in looking up statistics and trying to figure out what they all mean. This is entertaining and informative. I think you explained each of the graphs quite well and I was able to understand their significance. If people aren’t happy with the way you approached the subject, then they can go find their information somewhere more “appropriate” or whatever. As for the use of Island stereotypes, you’re not the first nor will you be the last person to use them. Hell, CBC broadcasts “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” and it can’t get much more stereotypical than that when it comes to their views on PEI. If I were to give any comments on how you could improve your article, it wouldn’t be on how you shouldn’t have used the stereotypes and the satire to approach such a topic. I would suggest you use more of a variety in order to keep us young readers interested. Some of the biggest worldly issues were the subjects of many satirical texts written decades ago and those essays are still used today as learning material in schools and universities. Satire gets the point across. If you don’t like it, visit a site that reports the issues in a more traditional way. No one forces you to find your information on a satirical site.

  • Mary

    Drinking and driving is a serious offense that claims lives. As an Islander then Arielle you may know someone who was killed by a drunk driver…I know several and some of them friends and relatives. I have always said there should be a NO tolerance policy for drinking and driving and IF you get your licence back after your first offence then there should be a lock on your steering wheel AND a licence plate on your car alerting the rest of us who DO NOT drink and dive.If you lose them then a second time …no more licence …ever!BUT…I also know people who have lost their licence several times and then while suspended get back into a vehicale and drive …again…intoxicated .. I also am an Islander Arielle and proud of it. I would NEVER make fun of my home… and in public. I am dissapointed for you in that you feel so disconnected to your home. I know your comment is that what you are doing is Satire… but in reading it especially when you say tapdancing for tourists? That sounds almost angry…we may have different opinions of Satire ….! People are taking offense to your remarks…yep PEI has it’s issues BUT and this is huge… We do have a lot to be thankful for ! clean air…low crime rates…no earthquakes twisters or volcanos …I am proud to be from PEI!