What’s the right solution when it comes to a problem like drunk driving?

Do you a) Step up enforcement of current laws, or b) Make up new laws targeting previously ‘law abiding’ people and allow police to dole out punishment at the roadside?

If you chose a), congratulations. The Calgary Police Service has caught up to your line of thinking.

More than two years after former premier Alison Redford surprisingly pitched new draconian laws around alcohol and driving, and nearly two years since they took effect, Calgary police will be rolling out new Checkstop units to increase its presence in the fight against drunks on our streets.

Just in time for the Christmas boozing season, the CPS will have a pair of vans out on the roads, Traffic Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey told the Sun’s Katie Schneider.

“We can have one on the north end, one on the south end or we could run both together if we’re in a busy Checkstop location, so it just gives us some more options,” he said.

“We’re getting pretty aggressive with impaired driving and also impaired by drugs — having two units, smaller units ... they are better on maintenance for us and cheaper to run and just as effective as the big bus, if not more effective.”

“Aggressive with impaired driving” is the kind of attitude we want to hear from police, and the best way to execute that is through higher-profile enforcement.

If only the province had this kind of foresight in 2011, there could have been a province-wide push to step up enforcement, perhaps backed up with cash, rather than the laws Redford’s government passed.

Redford would have met far less resistance in pledging greater support to law enforcement with the sole purpose of targeting drunk drivers, even though deaths were actually on the wane.

Yes, impaired driving deaths were cut by 44% in the five years before Redford’s laws came into effect, following the downward trend province-wide in the number of crashes, injuries and fatal collisions.

Parallel to this was a four-year reduction in the per capita rate of police-reported impaired driving incidents in Alberta between 2009 and 2011 after peaking in 2008, according to Stats Canada.

And there has been little evidence put forward that the new provincial rules have done anything to make the roads safer, or reduce the number of crashes.

In other words, we’ve been doing pretty well.

But I understand the need to take a hard line against people who get behind the wheel when they’re smashed.

With Calgary police increasing their presence, and Edmonton already offering enhanced Checkstops through the year, perhaps those running to become the next premier may see the benefit of a provincial approach.

After all, we have joint-force units dedicated to gangs, drugs and child porn. It’s not such a far-fetched notion to suggest marshalling resources — both cash and people — to tackle this problem head-on, which is what should have been done to begin with.

The only downside to increased enforcement is the chance more drivers would be snared by Redford’s flawed laws focusing on people with a BAC between .05 and .08, and doling out instant driving suspensions for people charged under the criminal code.

The debate around drunk driving, and the best approach to deal with it, is surely charged, especially when you factor in the toll of human lives.

But, like with the change in attitude around smoking, more and more people are seeing that it’s not a good choice.

For those that haven’t gotten with the program, here’s hoping they’re caught, convicted, and punished accordingly.

Source: Calgary Sun


Last updated on: 2014-05-15 | Link to this post