By Lethbridge Herald on December 11, 2023.
Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – firstname.lastname@example.org
’Tis the season to be jolly but the Lethbridge Police Service is making sure city drivers aren’t having too much fun before they get behind the steering wheels of their vehicles.
The LPS is running its Christmas Check Stop campaign and on Saturday night, stopped numerous vehicles driving in the westbound lanes of Whoop-Up Drive and turning north onto Blackfoot Road West.
Police were joined by the Alberta Sheriffs on the initiative along with representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving who were handing out assorted goodies, including windshield scrapers, to motorists.
During the second week of the campaign, police checked about 450 vehicles and issued five Immediate Road Side Sanction fails, plus one IRS refusal, two IRS warns, one IRS novice, one 24-hour suspension and 35 violation tickets.
Acting Sgt. Brent Paxman of the Traffic Response Unit met with media during the Saturday Check Stop conducted under chilly conditions with a brisk wind to discuss the annual blitz to keep roads safe from impaired drivers.
The LPS is doing as many Check Stops as it can during December, said Paxman.
“Just making sure everybody is driving sober,” he said.
“Essentially, we are out here looking for impaired drivers. Impaired drivers cause a significant risk to everyone on the road and that causes a lot of pain and grief,” he added.
“We’re just out here trying to get impaired drivers off the road and provide education to those that see us.”
Mandatory alcohol screening exists in Canada so everyone going through a Check Stop must provide a breath sample. Police also do document checks, he added.
During the first days of the Check Stops, police caught three impaired drivers and Paxman said the LPS wasn’t surprised.
Police hope they don’t catch any impaired drivers, he added.
“We’re hoping that people plan a ride home,” Paxman said.
Police will also check for signs of impairment by other drugs, he said, if they suspect a driver is impaired.
Anita Huchala, president of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for Lethbridge and Area, said the number of impaired drivers is always concerning.
“We’re always thankful that the police are catching these impaired drivers before they create a crash and possibly injure or kill somebody then we’re dealing with the victim side of it,” Huchala said.
The MADD president doesn’t feel the message of driving sober is being ignored but rather people think they won’t get caught.
“Maybe they’re not far from home and they can do just a quick drive and get home. But anything can happen at any time and we’re just asking that people drive safe and sober,” said Huchala.
Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .05 or over are subject to an IRS Warn resulting in an immediate three-day license suspension and vehicle seizure along with a $300 fine. Penalties increase with repeated offences.
There is zero tolerance for drivers with a Graduated Driving License and offences result in an immediate 30-day license suspension, seven-day vehicle seizure and $200 fine.