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Cruel and unusual?

Once upon a time, in the eyes of many, driving under the influence was more of an infraction than a crime. These days, even first-offense DWI carries some pretty stiff penalties that include fines, suspensions, and even incarceration.

(Prison gates won’t open up for me…these iron bars can’t hold my soul in.)

But one Canadian police department recently threatened to add an immediate form of punishment for those suspected of driving drunk, one that tosses due process out the window of a moving police cruiser: forcing suspects on their way to the local pokey to listen to Vancouver-based and oft-hated-on rock group Nickelback.

(This is how you remind me of what I really am…)

On its Facebook page, the Kensington Police Service posted that if one was foolish enough to get behind the wheel after drinking (How did our eyes get so red?) this holiday season, then the “perfect gift” was a “little Chad Kroeger and the boys.”

Specifically, Constable Robb Hartlen threatened to spin the group’s 2001 album, “Silver Side Up.”

“So please, lets not ruin a perfectly good unopened copy of Nickelback,” the post stated. “You don’t drink and drive and we won’t make you listen to it.”

(Something’s gotta go wrong, ‘cause I’m feelin’ way too damn good…)

But after the post went viral and Hartlen felt like the serious message was being swallowed by the galactic joke, he apologized. (It’s not like you to say sorry…)

In fact, unlike Durham attorney T. Greg Doucette, who called the band’s music “torture,” Hartlen admitted that he actually likes Nickelback.

But the band’s frontman, Chad Kroeger, was previously convicted of DUI and the band has been criticized for lines such as “If they ask why I drink all day, I’ll say because I can,” from their “hit” song, “Rockstar” (named by many critics as the worst song ever).

Hartlen deleted the original post and subsequently wrote that he’d been accused of making light of a serious topic. That stunned him, he said.

“The destruction to not only vehicles, but to families, bodies, entire lives, we see this destruction,” Hartlen wrote. “We smell the pain mixed with booze covered in motor oil and blood. We take these images and sensations home with us. At no point will any of us make light of Drinking and Driving.”

Hartlen added that he just thought a little humor could help get the point across.

It’s, uh, Too Bad the substance might have been lost; if message boards and social media are any indication, a threatened looping of Nickelback’s multiplatinum CD could’ve served as the deterrent folks needed to Never Again drink and drive.

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