Police ramping up impaired driving check stops

It's a number Victoria police Const. Matt Rutherford finds disappointing.

It’s a number Victoria police Const. Matt Rutherford finds disappointing.

In October, 34 drivers from Victoria and Esquimalt were removed from the road after police deemed they were impaired by alcohol or drugs.

That’s 34 too many for Rutherford, who said many people are still making the decision to get behind the wheel after they’ve consumed alcohol.

“It’s still quite a problem in our community. Unfortunately, many people make the decision not to plan ahead and drive impaired,” said Rutherford, adding it was disappointing to see the numbers from October. “It’s disappointing that people aren’t getting the message that drinking and driving does create fatal accidents and it’s poor decision making.”

To combat drinking and driving in the city, Victoria police are ramping up check stops in the coming months as part oft the annual drinking and driving campaign. On Saturday, police had check stops on Blanshard Street, and Bay and Turner streets, where they caught one impaired driver.

In addition to checking for driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, police will also be checking for vehicle defects, new drivers without their ‘N’, and people not wearing their seat belts — all things that are problematic on local roads, Rutherford said.

“Potentially by us doing enforcement, it can help save lives,” he said.

Around the holiday season, with more people going out for Christmas parties and social gatherings, drinking and driving tends to increase.

When heading out, always have a plan to get home, whether it’s finding a designated driver (who has not consumed alcohol) or taking a taxi. Throughout the night, if people are questioning if they should drive after a few drinks, Rutherford said don’t get behind the wheel.

“Take appropriate steps — leave the car wherever it may be and get home, it’s not worth the risk,” he said.

According to ICBC, on average 78 people die in vehicle crashes involving impaired driving in a year, and impairment remains in the top three contributing factors for fatal car crashes.

The penalties for drinking and driving include driving suspensions from 24 hours to 90 days, vehicle impoundment, fines that range from $600 to $4,000, or the installation of an ignition interlock in the vehicle.