More Carcross citizens calling police over impaired driving

Some Carcross residents are refusing to sit back and watch while impaired drivers take over their roads, and it’s leading to more arrests.

Some Carcross residents are refusing to sit back and watch while impaired drivers take over their roads, and it’s leading to more arrests.

Calls from residents reporting suspected impaired drivers have led to two arrests this month. Such calls are invaluable for targeting drunk drivers, said RCMP detachment commander Cpl. Geoff Peters.

“Without it we’re throwing darts,” he said.

“The public is the key because at least half, if not more, of the impaired driving charges are the result of someone calling.”

Every spring, the Carcross detachment meets with community groups to determine where to focus its efforts for the year.

From the meeting, the detachment made targeting impaired drivers a priority. The decision was made in part because of an incident in April, when a passenger on a snowmobile died as the result of an impaired driving accident.

So far this year, 13 Carcross residents have been charged with impaired driving related charges, compared with six for all of 2013, and one in 2012.

Peters said it’s not happening more often, but rather they’re catching more people in the act.

It was nearly 10:15 p.m. on Oct. 18 when a Carcross resident called the RCMP to report a suspected impaired driver.

Two days later, at approximately 5:30 p.m., another resident made a similar call to the detachment.

In both cases, drivers were arrested for impaired operation of a vehicle.

Another person was pulled over and arrested on Oct. 1 after an RCMP officer observed suspicious behavior behind the wheel.

Peters said his detachment is also doing extra checkpoints and carrying out more roadside suspensions.

There were no 24-hour license suspensions last year, and about two the year before, Peters said.

The suspensions are given when a driver has consumed drugs or alcohol but not in the amount that would qualify for an impaired driving charge or an arrest.

“We got 10 or 11 of those so far this year,” Peters said.

“We know everybody in the community. There’s one fella here whose licence was suspended not long ago for impaired driving and I saw him driving around while I was off duty.

“I saw him later on my shift and gave him a warning. It’s much harder to get away with it here.”

Peters said the increase in calls signals a cultural shift.

It’s harder in a small community to call and report an impaired driver when they’re a friend or relative, he said.

“It’s very encouraging for us that more people are calling,” he said.

“It means the message is getting through and people are sick of it.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at myles@yukon-news.com