RCMP officers charged 26 people with impaired driving as a result of check stops over the holiday season.
Cpl. Shawn Pollard, head of the RCMP’s traffic services division, released those numbers earlier this week. They do not include any possible arrests over New Year’s Eve.
“That’s a lot,” the veteran officer said, stating the obvious, but clearly frustrated.
The arrests happened during check stops beginning November 20.
Pollard said the territory is lucky no serious crashes due to impaired driving happened during that time.
Driving impaired is “virtually a murder in progress,” he said.
On top of the 26 people charged with impaired driving, an additional 30 people received a 24-hour driving suspension.
That could be for a number of reasons, including if they appeared to be impaired by drugs or if they received a “warn” on a roadside alcohol-screening test, as opposed to a “fail,” Pollard said.
He said there is a “Yukon culture of drinking and driving” that needs to stop.
At the beginning of December, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson declared impaired driving a national priority.
“Impaired driving is an entirely preventable cause of death and injuries that devastates families and communities,” Paulson said at the time.
“A small decision can have great consequences, please make the right choice before you get behind the wheel. Everyone has the right to come home safe. “
Pollard said it’s a mistake for people to think that police are only on the lookout for impaired drivers over the holidays.
While they may ramp up their presence this time of year, check stops happen year round, he said.
It appears that people are aware of the check stops, but that hasn’t stopped them from being charged.
Pollard stopped one driver who laughed and insisted he hadn’t been drinking because he knew the police were out.
He proceeded to fail the roadside test.
Pollard said the community has a major role to play in stopping impaired driving.
“We really need everyone involved. It can’t just be officers, it needs to be the community too. If you see someone who is impaired, take their keys, step in.”