Police from several departments conducted the season’s first Joint Forces Check Stop on Highway 566 just east of the QEII at the Balzac Community Centre, Dec. 5.

The media-friendly event was held to coincide with the National Impaired Driving Enforcement Campaign.

Corporal Darrin Turnbull, with Airdrie’s Integrated Traffic Unit, said the Check Stop was just the first of many that will take place in December.

“The officers are out here in the cold and they are out here all December looking for impaired drivers because they don’t want to have to do the other job and that is to knock on the door of somebody’s house and tell them ‘I am sorry but your loved one is not coming home,’” he said.

“The true success will be... if we had no one die from impaired driving during the month of December - how amazing would that be?”

Turnbull said over the years police have seen a decrease in the number of impaired drivers and in people who have lost their lives due to drinking and driving.

He urged people to plan ahead during the holiday season.

“I have seen so many good people make the mistake and drink and drive,” he said. “If you try to plan how to get home after you have been drinking, you are going to make a mistake.”

Darren Keeler, with MADD Canada, lost his 19-year-old son a few years ago when an impaired driver hit his son and a friend from behind on the highway between Sylvan Lake and Red Deer.

He said Christmas has lost its meaning.

“It’s the worst thing a parent can ever go through,” he said. “This Christmas, last Christmas and every Christmas going forward... it isn’t Christmas anymore for us.”

Keeler repeated Turnbull’s plea to plan ahead.

“Go out, have a great time, just do it responsibly,” he said. “Take a cab, have a designated driver, just don’t drink and drive.”

Jonathan Denis, the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, was also on hand to kick off the Check Stop season.

He said Alberta has some of the toughest anti-drinking and driving laws in the country, explaining if a driver is caught with a breath sample of over .05, they will have their vehicle seized and their license taken away.

A breath sample of over .08 will result in an immediate license suspension until the criminal matter is dealt with.

Denis said there has been a downward trend since Alberta introduced the stiffer penalties in 2012.

“It’s too soon obviously to declare a victory, but at the same time, I feel it was the right thing to do,” said Denis.

According to Alberta Transportation statistics, from 2008 to 2012, 471 people were killed and 7,397 were injured in collisions involving at least one driver who had consumed alcohol before the crash.

Police say impaired driving is an enormous cost on society. Impaired drivers risk their own life as well as the lives of family, friends and other Albertans using the highways.

Those caught driving or involved in a crash while impaired —with either drugs or alcohol — will be charged criminally.

Denis reminds drivers that drunk-driving accidents are 100 per cent preventable.

“This is the holiday season and I hope everyone gets a few days off, and spends some time with friends and families,” he said. “If that involves a few beverages that’s great too, all we ask is that you please plan ahead for another ride home.

“Please think of the families who have lost loved ones due to drunk drivers. I have met so many of them and all you have to talk to is one.”

Source: Airdrie Echo

Last updated on: 2014-12-18 | Link to this post