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Candy cane checkstop in Fort Macleod targets impaired driving


Law enforcement officials urge drivers in Fort Macleod and district to plan ahead if they are celebrating during the holidays.
Police are cracking down on impaired driving at Christmas and through to the new year.
“Impaired driving is a huge cause of death and serious injury to people in Alberta,” said Kevin Brandvold, regional traffic safety consultant for the southwest region with the Alberta Office of Traffic Safety.
Agencies from across the south got together Dec. 23 to spread information about the consequences of impaired driving, along with some holiday cheer.
A candy cane checkstop was held on Highway 3 in Fort Macleod on Dec. 23, just across from the RCMP detachment.
Law enforcement agencies, including Town of Fort Macleod community peace officers Scott Donselaar and Wes Noble, stopped east- and westbound vehicles.
Instead of handing out violation tickets, the law enforcement officials presented drivers with candy canes and information about impaired driving.
“It’s a good way for us to speak with the public and have them interact with law enforcement in a way that is positive,” Brandvold said.
The officers had more than 1,000 candy canes to hand out, and their efforts drew smiles and words of appreciation from drivers.
Brandvold is optimistic that events such as the candy cane checkstop, promotional campaigns and presentations in schools are having the desired effect of reducing the incidence of impaired driving.
“The education efforts that the Alberta government has had since 2007 I really believe are starting to make a difference,” Brandvold said. “We have a generation of folks now who have had that education for almost seven years in the school and the communities.”
The results of a province-wide enforcement effort earlier this month back up Brandvold’s statement.
The RCMP conducted a province-wide checkstop blitz Dec. 4 in 259 locations where officers stopped and checked more than 20,500 vehicles, about the same number as during a 2014 blitz.
At the 2015 checkstops, 46 drivers were charged with impaired driving, which is down from 70 in 2014.
Police issued 73 roadside suspensions due to alcohol, which is up slightly from 71 in 2014, and 34 roadside suspensions due to drugs, an increase from 24 in 2014.
Alberta Office of Traffic Safety Web site offers the following information about impaired driving:
• Alcohol affects your judgment, reaction time and perception.
• On average over the past five years, 80 people were killed and more than 1,250 were injured each year in collisions involving a drinking driver.
• Drivers in fatal collisions were five times more likely than those in injury collisions to have consumed alcohol.
• During 2014, almost 16 per cent of drivers in fatal collisions had consumed alcohol prior to the crash compared to three per cent of drivers in injury collisions.
• Male drivers were four times more likely than female drivers to have consumed alcohol prior to a crash.
• Across Canada, one third of fatally injured drivers tested were found to have consumed drugs.
In Alberta, if your blood alcohol concentration is greater than .05, you may face an immediate three-day licence suspension and a three-day vehicle seizure on your first offence.
If the police determine your ability to operate a vehicle has been impaired by alcohol or drugs, even if your blood alcohol concentration is below .08, you can be charged criminally with impaired driving.
Police may disqualify you from driving for 24 hours if they believe your ability to drive is affected by drugs, alcohol, a medical condition or physical ability.
A refusal to provide a breath sample, refusing to comply with a demand for physical sobriety tests or refusal to provide bodily fluid samples is a criminal offence.
If you are charged with a criminal impaired driving offence, you will lose your licence immediately until all of your criminal impaired driving related charges are resolved.
Albertans are urged to ensure they have a safe way to get home if they will be consuming alcohol, including having a designated driver or using public transportation.
Anyone who suspects a driver is impaired should call 911.