National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day is Saturday and Red Deer RCMP are recognizing the day by kicking off their annual holiday Checkstop campaign.
“The big thing at Christmas time is you’re going to have more parties. Historically, that’s when our problems have been so we put the resources into detecting impaired drivers,” said RCMP Sgt. Al Nickolson on Wednesday.
He said when the economy was booming, a lot of people used limousines, taxis and designated drivers to attend company parties. With the economic downturn, people will be still be drinking, but there may be more house parties. It’s hard to predict.
Red Deer RCMP focus on impaired driving throughout the year, but efforts during the holidays expand with increased Checkstops and active patrols using marked and unmarked police vehicles. Officers test drivers for alcohol impairment and can identify and charge drivers impaired by street drugs, prescription drugs, or a combination of intoxicating substances.
He said police are nimble, set up for shorter periods of time and as the evening progresses, officers always find more impaired drivers.
“Once you get past midnight, it seems like you set up, you go 20 minutes or half an hour, and you find an impaired driver.”
He said it’s everyone’s responsibility to prevent impaired driving, and the tragedies that can result.
“We don’t want to see a person basically ruining their life. The problem is they have a few drinks, or drugs, they lose their inhibition and do things that a sober person wouldn’t normally do,” Nickolson said.
Impaired driving penalties include:
l Those with a graduated drivers licence are not to consume any alcohol. If a roadside test shows one mg or more of alcohol, they immediately lose their licence for one month, face a $230 ticket, and the vehicle they are driving is seized for a minimum of seven days.
l If a roadside test is completed while a driver is behind the wheel and their reading is between 50 mg and 80 mg of alcohol, they immediately lose their licence for a minimum of 72 hours and the vehicle they are driving is seized for a minimum of three days.
l If someone is charged with impaired driving or driving while over .08, they immediately lose their licence until court proceeding are completed, which could take months, or longer, and may result in jail time. The vehicle they are driving is also seized for a minimum of three days.