By Bobinec, Greg on January 8, 2020.
The Lethbridge Police Service Traffic Response Unit conducted multiple check stops over the holiday season, inspecting hundreds of drivers for being under the influence while driving or vehicle operation infractions.
Three check stops were conducted near the end of December, where five people were charged with impaired driving, with a handful of licence suspensions, vehicle seizures and tickets also issued.
“We conducted three check stops over December, 20, 28, and 31. Approximately 600 vehicles went through our check stops,” says Sgt. Kevin Talbot. “We charged five individuals with impaired driving, four were for alcohol impairment and one was for drug impairment. We had 16 licence suspensions, 19 vehicles were seized, five individuals were charged for prohibited driving, so they had a previous suspension, and there was 31 tickets issued and one warrant that was executed, and we had one individual that failed to stop for the check stop.”
Although perfect results from a check stop would be no charges, suspensions or seizures, Talbot says the numbers from the 2019 holiday check stops are fairly average compared to previous years.
This holiday season officers in Alberta were able to ask for a roadside breathalyzer from anyone upon request. During the Lethbridge check stops, breathalyzers were requested to the majority of drivers, and Talbot says the public responded respectfully as everyone understood the purpose behind it.
“It has been very positive,” says Talbot. “Individuals who are asked to do it, they understand why we do check stops and they are fully supportive to being inconvenienced by a few minutes to go through that process and get through the check stop as fast as possible.”
People who blew .05 were slapped with a 72-hour suspension, or charge similar. Anyone who reached .08 or higher limit resulted in criminal charges. Talbot says although some people would like the charges for impaired driving to be higher, they have to follow the direction of the Criminal Code and court to properly charge offenders.
“The legal limit is 80 milligrams per cent of alcohol in your blood, and that is where we charge,” says Talbot. “There is a series of things that we can do. One is that we can charge someone criminally with impaired driving, which results in an automatic suspension and seizure of the motor vehicle. The Criminal Code is where we draw from for the punishments and those are handed down by the court, and we have to follow within those guidelines with what the Criminal Code allows us to.”
Although the holiday season has ended, the LPS Traffic Response Unit will continue to look for impaired drivers, with the possibility of check stops in the near future. If you have had anything to drink and are in need of a ride home, call a friend, family member, taxi, take public transportation, or walk to your destination to not only save your life from a bad decision, but to save others sharing the road as well.
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