Tougher impaired driving laws that took effect on Saturday failed to keep intoxicated drivers off Red Deer streets.
Sgt. Bob Bell, in charge of the traffic unit at Red Deer city RCMP, said he was disappointed by the number of intoxicated people pulled over on Labour Day weekend, despite increased publicity over provincial legislation regarding .05 to .08 blood alcohol levels.
From early Saturday until early Tuesday, five 72-hour driving suspensions were issued for those with .05 to .08 levels. Six people were charged with impaired driving.
“The first vehicle we seized was about 20 minutes after midnight (early Saturday),” said Bell on Tuesday. “These numbers are surprising with all the increased publicity through the Alberta government … you would think that people would be extra cautious.
“I thought it would have been difficult to find anyone who had been drinking and driving.”
Increased penalties began on Saturday for anyone facing violations of having blood alcohol between .05 and .08. Targeting these drivers has not happened before in Alberta. They automatically are banned from driving for three days.
Police could ban drivers for 24 hours before.
The province also increased penalties for those over .08 as of July 1.
On a first charge, drivers will see their licence suspended until their criminal charge is resolved, plus their vehicle is seized for three days, and they must take a Planning Ahead course.
As of July 1, any driver with a graduated licence will face an immediate 30-day licence suspension and seven-day vehicle suspension as a result of having any alcohol in their system.
Bell said the increased penalties regarding driving suspensions were a shock to those who were caught on the holiday weekend.
“Some people weren’t too happy from what I heard,” said Bell.