Last Friday things got a little tougher for drunk drivers in Alberta. On that day, National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day, RCMP officers began the process of saturating the province’s roads and scanning intently for impaired drivers.
The core of the effort will be checkstop, in which drivers are stopped and questioned by police. The officers are trained to detect any sign of impairment, and can then order a breath or chemical test if they suspect that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Checkstops are by far the most efficient way to take drunk drivers off the roads. During the holidays, Integrated Traffic Units – combinations of local sheriffs and RCMP officers – will be seen stopping vehicles, checking drivers and arresting offenders. If past performance is any indication, they will net DUIs in large numbers.
The holidays are always a big time for drinking and driving. Nearly any business of any size has an office party after work during this time, and in addition to holiday parties, students return to their homes from college and get together to drink with friends. It’s sadly inevitable that a percentage of these revelers are going to end up getting into a vehicle and causing themselves and others damage and heartache.
It’s also sad that, as the RCMP spokespeople have noted, that there are alternatives. A designated driver, taxi or rideshare services is an easy way to get yourself home while evading a DUI. There is also the underused option of just crashing on a friend’s sofa.
If you are drinking in Alberta (or anywhere) during the holiday season, make a plan to get home without having to drive. And if your friends are the ones doing the drinking, it’s your duty to see that they make the right decision. Insist, take their keys, or otherwise persuade them not to drink and drive. Otherwise, they might end up with a free ride courtesy of the RCMP.