Police on the Saanich Peninsula are lighting up the highway and local roadways this month, as part of a blitz to stem the tide of drinking and driving this holiday season.
It’s an ongoing battle for police, who have to be on the look out for people who are driving while under the influence of alcohol — at a time of year that seems to lend itself to more frequent nights out, due to the nature of the month of December.
At the beginning of the month, Central Saanich Police and the Sidney North Saanich RCMP teamed up for Light up the Highway — a way to raise visibility of police, roadside checks and to get people to think about alternate ways of getting home from work parties or other events.
Corporal Chris Manseau, the public affairs officer for the Sidney North Saanich RCMP says he was quite pleased with how people are already treating the season.
During the Light up the Highway roadside checks earlier this month, he said they didn’t have to arrest or ticket anyone and no vehicles were impounded.
“I’m happy with how that went,” he said. “People had turned to taxis, designated drivers or friends and a lot of employers have been giving out taxi chits or hotel rooms.”
Manseau calls that event — a province-wide blitz by police to raise awareness of the season — a bit of an anomaly, however.
“I’d like to hope that the numbers of impaired drivers are dropping, but the fact is, we are still seeing them and it’s still a big problem.”
Police, he continued, continue to focus their drinking and driving prevention work — and roadblocks — over the weekends and usually between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Manseau said Friday, Saturday and Sunday are still the days during which most drinking takes place. So, officers continue to set up spot checks on main roads and back streets.
As well, police are even setting up roadblocks in the morning — often catching drivers who’d been drinking the night before and have not yet had enough time to lose their impairment.
Local police ask that the public be on the lookout for possible impaired drivers this month — and throughout the year. Manseau said police will respond to people’s reports of drunk driving, ensuring both the community and police forces co-operate in getting such drivers off the road.
And it shouldn’t be difficult to do that, even before a fun night out had begun.
Manseau said there are plenty of options, rather than getting into your car after you’ve been drinking.
Those include taxis, BC Transit, designated driver — be it a friend or a parent or adult child — and even hotel rooms nearby, allowing you to sleep it off.
Taking the chance after drinking and getting behind the wheel, “is just not worth the expense,” Manseau said.