(Black Press file photo)

More roadside checks in Greater Trail, more impaired drivers caught

Trail and Greater District RCMP dedicating more days to driving enforcement

More than a dozen impaired drivers were taken off the road in Trail and outlying areas this month as police stepped up enforcement.

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That number is significant, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the public is becoming complacent about drinking and driving laws. The results likely reflect the fact that Trail and Greater District RCMP officers more than doubled the number of dedicated enforcement days this year compared to 2018.

“I think we are out there more and catching them,” Sgt. Mike Wicentowich told the Trail Times. “Actually, the bulk of the population understands that it’s a low tolerance, you can’t have that many drinks and drive your car, and most people do avoid it.”

He quantified that statement by pointing to the downward trend of alcohol-related deaths on Kootenay highways.

“Overall, year after year, fatalities in accidents have dropped,” Wicentowich explained. “I think that’s where we really have to focus. I started in the Kootenays 20 years ago, when 30-something fatalities on the roadway in the Kootenays was considered low,” he said.

“Now, we are usually below 10. So these impaired laws are working, we are seeing less people die and get hurt on the road, though not everyone complies with them.”

Of the cases he reported in May, the majority of those charged, who range in age from 18 to 61 years, received anywhere from a 12-hour or 24-hour suspension, to a three-day driving prohibition. Aside from the 18-year old, whose breath sample must read zero, the drivers would have blown a “WARN” or not less than 0.05 BAC (blood alcohol content) but under 0.08 BAC, which is legally impaired.

“Our IRP, or Immediate Roadside Prohibition system, allows for different levels of response,” Wicentowich said. “Typically, if someone is not showing as strong impairment … they may get a lesser suspension … Those determinations are made by officers on scene, they are experienced and good at making those types of calls.”

In the past four weeks, five drivers failed a breath test and received the maximum 90-day driving prohibition and had their vehicles impounded. Notably, one male driver, 38, blew more than twice the limit for alcohol when he was caught driving in the Warfield school zone the afternoon of May 9. That driver has a court date in August.

“We’ve done significantly more impaired enforcement using the IRP system,” said Wicentowich. “But every now and then we will use the criminal system, those are the ones that are criminally pursued when conditions are met.”

As the BC RCMP’s month-long High Risk Driving Campaign winds down today (May 31), that doesn’t mean the Trail and Greater District detachment is letting up anytime soon.

“We plan to be out there for weekend festivals, patrolling for people whose ability to drive their vehicles is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs and then they’re taking the risk and driving their cars,” the sergeant added.

“We have two members who are trying to qualify for Alexa’s Team … so they are very engaged in this type of enforcement.”

Alexa Middelaer, a four-year old girl from Delta, was killed by a drunk driver in 2008. Alexa’s Team pays tribute to the dedicated RCMP and municipal police officers who make an extraordinary contribution to reducing the number of impaired drivers on British Columbia’s roads and highways.

Police briefs:

• May 25, at 22:14 p.m. Trail RCMP conducted an investigation into the alleged impaired driving of a male, 41, near the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Columbia Gardens Road in Fruitvale. Police determined his ability to drive a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol. The driver failed a roadside screening device breath test administered by an officer. The driver was issued a 90-day Immediate Driving Prohibition.

• May 25, at 23:17 p.m. Trail RCMP conducted an investigation into the alleged impaired driving of a female, 40, on Main Street, in Fruitvale. Police determined her ability to drive a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol. The driver failed a roadside screening device breath test administered by an officer. She was issued a 90-day Immediate Driving Prohibition and her vehicle was impounded for 30 days.

• May 25, 12:54 a.m. Trail RCMP conducted an investigation into the alleged impaired driving of a male, 44, near the intersection of Rossland Avenue and Highway 22. Police determined his ability to drive a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol. The driver failed a roadside screening device breath test administered by an officer. The driver was issued a 90-day Immediate Driving Prohibition and his vehicle was impounded for 30 days.

• May 25, at 12:54 a.m. Trail RCMP conducted an investigation into the alleged impaired driving of a male, 58, on Old Salmo Road, in Fruitvale. Police determined his ability to drive a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol. The driver failed a roadside screening device breath test administered by an officer. The driver was issued a 90-day Immediate Driving Prohibition and his vehicle was impounded for 30 days.

• May 29, Pend D’Oreille, Trail RCMP conducted two check stops in advance of a grad party. Police stopped over 80 vehicles and confiscated 100+ cans/bottles of beer or cooler-type drinks, and six liquor bottles of various sizes. Police reported, “The students all had dedicated sober drivers to take them to and from the site.”



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

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