Police charge four with impaired driving during weekend crackdown

Police charged four people with impaired driving during a series of weekend check stops in Whitehorse and Teslin.

Police charged four people with impaired driving during a series of weekend check stops in Whitehorse and Teslin.

Three of those drivers received 24-hour driving suspensions, RCMP said Monday.

On Friday, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Yukon’s chief coroner and RCMP commanding officer Scott Sheppard joined RCMP members conducting check stops in Whitehorse.

On Saturday check stops were held in Teslin.

“It’s not about arresting impaired drivers,” said Cpl. Shawn Pollard, head of the RCMP’s traffic services division. “It’s about being safe.”

Arrest numbers only reflect the impaired drivers the RCMP catch, Pollard said.

“What does it take in order to have change?” he asked. “Do we need to have more people killed?”

Pollard said over the years he’s encountered drivers so drunk they could barely stand up.

The vast majority of drivers appreciate the RCMP’s check stops, he said.

“We get thanked, we get offered coffee,” he said. “They love to see what we’re doing.”

In 2011 the territory had Canada’s second-highest rate of impaired driving, with 943 cases per 100,000 people, a figure three times the national average.

Over the 2013 Christmas season, 26 people were charged with impaired driving, and another 30 received 24-hour driving suspensions.

While Pollard hasn’t received the impaired driving numbers for this year, he says it’s still too common of an occurrence.

“There are still lots of impaired drivers arrested,” he said. “Every night, almost, somebody is arrested.”

Pollard said impaired driving is not only a matter of being over the legal limit, but is also about the ability to operate a vehicle, regardless of how much alcohol the person consumed.

Drugs and fatigue can also lead to impaired driving, something people too often forget, Pollard said.

Specially trained RCMP officers can detect whether a driver used drugs, even prescription drugs.

“We do have the resources and the ability to charge these people,” he said.

Fatigue too, can result in impaired driving.

“We see people come up from the south, fall asleep and hit the ditch,” Pollard said. Those are often drivers coming from Vancouver to Whitehorse or Americans travelling to and from Alaska.

“I do see people that are so tired they can hardly talk to you,” he said. “They look like they’re drunk.”

Pollard said he hopes people stay safe over the festive season.

“It’s devastating what (impaired driving) does to people,” he said. “It ruins their lives for the people that are left.”

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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