It was around 5 p.m. last week when Victoria police Const. Cody Lapierre received a call about an impaired driver who had reared-ended a family out enjoying their pre Christmas events near Mayfair Mall.
There were no injuries, but seeing two young children in the back seat of the vehicle caused Lapierre a great deal of concern. The male driver was so impaired that he tried to dislodge his vehicle from the family’s vehicle and flee the scene.
“He was so drunk he was confused. It was pretty scary. It could have been a lot worse,” said Lapierre. “That really disturbed me because I have a young daughter as well.”
Recent numbers released by Statistics Canada rank Victoria the fourth highest in the country when it comes to impaired drivers.
And police in Victoria have been out in full force this holiday season, cracking down on drunks behind the wheel every night at various road blocks set up throughout the city.
According to Lapierre, officers have been nabbing at least one or two impaired drivers per road block, typically between midnight and 3 a.m. Police are also seeing another alarming trend — an increase in drivers impaired by drugs, particularly marijuana.
“It’s very concerning. People need to get the message that it’s (drugs) the same as alcohol. Impaired driving is impaired driving, whether it’s alcohol or drugs,” said Lapierre, who’s worked in the traffic section for three years and hasn’t seen any changes when it comes to impaired driving during the holiday season.
“I am shocked because we’re out there and people know we’re out there and yet they still keep doing it. I worry about my own safety as well as everyone else.”
A key part of helping officers nab impaired drivers are calls from the public, which police in Victoria receive a lot of. Lapierre recalls one particular call on a Friday night about a driver who crashed through a construction zone on Cook Street and Pandora Avenue. A flagger at the site initially called it in, then a member of the public followed the vehicle to an apartment and notified police.
“We really appreciate the public’s assistance,” said Lapierre, noting police receive a lot of thank yous at the road blocks. “People understand that we’re getting drunks off the road so it’s keeping everyone safe.”
Police will continue to conduct check stops throughout the holiday season and into the new year. Anyone who sees a possible impaired driver to report to police is asked to get the licence plate of the vehicle, description and the direction the vehicle is travelling.