Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 6, 2014

Impaired driving culture isn’t changing: RCMP

RCMP stop-checks over the holiday season resulted in impaired driving charges against 29 people, with arrests made more days than not since mid-November.

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

RCMP Cpl. Shawn Pollard

RCMP stop-checks over the holiday season resulted in impaired driving charges against 29 people, with arrests made more days than not since mid-November.

The ramped-up anti- drunk-driving enforcement measures were part of the seasonal effort to deter drunk driving, clear the roads of people not fit to be behind the wheel and minimize the effects of “a culture that is not changing,” RCMP Cpl. Shawn Pollard told the Star today.

Pollard, head of the RCMP’s traffic unit, said last month the numbers were already higher than usual, even before Christmas Day.

The stop-check blitz one year ago resulted in 16 impaired driving charges in December, a lower rate even discounting the two weeks in November this season’s numbers incorporate.

“We’re going to lose more people to this horrible tragedy if we don’t change our habits and our culture,” Pollard warned last month.

“Especially here in the Yukon, there appears to be a culture of drinking and driving.”

On top of the 29 drivers slapped with charges, 18 people received 24-hour licence suspensions — 16 of them for alcohol, two for drug use.

That compares with 17 suspensions for the 2012 season, with more than half of those for suspected drug use.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson declared impaired driving a national priority last month, launching an enforcement campaign Dec. 1.

“Each year, thousands of Canadians are injured or killed by impaired drivers, and we chose this week to step up enforcement efforts to take alcohol and drug impaired drivers off the road, but we won’t stop here,” Paulson said at the start of the month.

Pollard confirmed Paulson’s declaration today: “We’re going to keep out there.

Just because it was ramped up during the holidays doesn’t mean it will let up.

“If you drink and drive, you’re going to get caught.”

At their peak last month, stop-checks were slated for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and could lead to roadside breathalyzer tests.

“Everybody knows we’re out there. I had a gentleman who said he wasn’t drinking that night because he knew, but he had open beer in his vehicle,” Pollard said two days before Christmas.

“It turned out he had been drinking anyway. That’s why I’m sitting here right now writing up that file.”

The results for the stop-check campaign during the 2011-12 holiday period were 22 people charged with impaired driving and 15 given 24-hour licence suspensions.

CommentsAdd a comment

Patrick

Jan 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Thank you Cpl. Shawn Pollard, and thank you to the RCMP staff and MADD volunteers who operate the check stops.
Most people know that after a witching hour many of the people on the road have been drinking and unfortunately many are impaired.  Somehow they do not get it and endanger other people on the road.
And many are impaired by prescription and over the counter medication. Lets buy equipment which will test for impairment due to drug use.

The culture here is pretty bad and it extends to people on city trails who use skidoos, as an example. Lets spend some effort on the trails as well. Many people use them to drive impaired out of sight between different areas within the city.

June Jackson

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

The pentalites for drunk/drugged driving are not harsh enough to deter anyone from drinking and driving, or any of the infractions that are currently ‘against the law’.
Stand on a corner, any corner, for 5 minutes and you’ll see 10 people drive by talking on their cell phones.
Stand on City Hall corner and look down and you will be lucky if you see anyone stop at a stop sign before turning on to Second Ave.
Impaired drivers are lucky in the Yukon..that our laws are lax or not fully enforced..that they didn’t kill anyone (this time), they made it somewhere alive.. and that I am not the one deciding their fate.

Max Mack

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:13 pm

According to the statistics quoted in the story, the number of roadside suspensions for “alcohol impairment” have not changed significantly since last year.
But how that implies that the “impairment culture” is not changing is beyond me. The numbers are too small to have any meaningful significance.
As for the claim that driving while “impaired” equals death, it should be noted that, in the vast majority of cases, fatalities caused by a drunk driver occur when the driver is grossly intoxicated—not mildly “impaired” as established by current (lowered) roadside breath-alcohol measurement.
Responsible drinking rarely leads to drinking and driving fatalities.

Pickitywitch

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm

In some countries they put the impaired culprit in jail for a lengthy sentence as well as their wife for a first time offense, furthermore, their driver’s license is taken away for life. What do you think of that drunken,  irresponsible Yukon drivers…...shame on you!
We need tougher laws.

Hmmm

Jan 6, 2014 at 11:55 pm

I called last year to report a drunk driver, they had beer in their hands, driving a large motorhome and passed our vehicle in a non passing zone going well over 90 in a 70 zone. I got the license number and made my husband follow them while I called it in on my cell phone. I was told all RCMP were too busy so we just followed the vehicle to its house and parked a few houses away. We waited 30 minutes and then I called again, still told they were busy. Meanwhile I was asked to provide all my information and was questioned further than is fair. After waiting very close to an hour and seeing no RCMP show up, we went home. The driver saw us follow them and knew we were parked by the house and probably knew we reported them. If the cops don’t take the calls seriously don’t ask me to report them to make it seem like you care, and don’t expect the culture to change either.

Mike

Jan 7, 2014 at 12:31 am

I think the stop checks should be out early in the morning, around 2-3 am. The only time I ever happened to see them out, was 6 pm. I don’t think that’s nearly effective enough.

yukoner

Jan 7, 2014 at 10:27 am

@ Patrick you people will find any reason to complain about ATV and Skidoos on the trails. Get over it. The trails don’t belong to all the special interest groups in this city. Find something else to complain about and get off the topic the machine’s aren’t going anywhere.

I'll drink to that

Jan 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

The RCMP simply are not engaged in policing.  They are huddled in their bronze sheet metal fortress occasionally plodding off down Elliot street to Timmies. They are surprised when they catch 29 people in a year on weekends when they announce the RIDE program is happening? 
I suggest they run RIDE more often, unannounced and not just on weekends.  Just an example watch the drunkards stumble out of The Ridge into their trucks and drive ‘just a couple blocks home’

Drivers don’t see enforcement and have become complacent.  They drive around, with no headlights on, rarely signal, speed, run lights/stop signs, jabber on their phones often in vehicles unfit to be on the road.

As June mentioned the punishments are too low.  Just this winter a man served no time for killing someone while drunk on a snow machine.  Imagine that.

sober thoguht

Jan 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm

to pickitywitch

Who cares what they do in some countries on this issue.  Imagine your wife being thrown in jail for the husbands offence?  bahahahaha, that will teach her.  Some countries do much worse to women, are you suggesting we follow their lead? 

Back to the issue on hand, I never seen a single road block all xmas season, even tho I was driving my daughter to work and picking her up at 10pm. 

It’s shocking, to think that so many people are still driving when they are having some drinks, even with all the warning they are making.  I think the judge should impose a “bozo” penalty, but don’t throw their wives in jail, someone needs to look after the kids

Russ JUBY

Jan 7, 2014 at 6:16 pm

To Max Mack:
Perhaps you should change your handle to “Madd Max”!  Who died and left you with a PhD in toxicology? Impaired is impaired. For some people that means only one beer or one shot. For others who are stupid enough to drink the whole 26 oz., They are the ones that swear they only had one drink as the rescue crews try to save the life of the person hit. Get a life, fella. Help stamp out all drinking and driving. Don’t defend “slightly impaired” idiots… that’s like claiming you’re only “slightly pregnant”!

Pickitywitch

Jan 7, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Hello sober happy new year to you too.
What a dopey notion. Of course I do not think women should go to jail for their husbands bad judgement. All I am saying that this is how they deal with drunk driving in some countries, the info was an actual posting on the wall of my insurance company wall a few years ago.
I will however stand by the notion that we have to have more severe penalties in the Yukon so people will think twice before they get behind the wheel and drive while they are under the influence .

Stu

Jan 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm

I often see beer cans or bottles on our street that people have tossed after drinking and driving. I guess a rural sub-division is a good place to stop and polish off a drink.

There are also many examples the last few years of people who have stopped in our driveway after operating ORVs on a local trail. They have a quick beer before throwing the cans or bottles in the driveway before driving on the street.

I am not making this up-it reinforces police observations that the culture here involves too much drinking and driving.  I think we need more checkstops and more charges. When these people know the law is effectively finding them the culture may change.

piper

Jan 8, 2014 at 6:15 am

This is just as bad as texting & yapping on the phone while driving.A year in jail with out any reductions for 1st time offence will sort these lousy drivers out.

Groucho d'North

Jan 8, 2014 at 7:49 am

So 29 anonymous people received impaired driving charges during a check stop for that purpose. Thanks to the RCMP and MADD for their efforts to keep the rest of us safe from these criminals.

Perhaps if the names of all people convicted of DUI were displayed in the local media, it would add some incentive for people to reconsider taking a cab or an alternate safe way home after a night on the town. A monthly listing of the names of these reprobates similar to the old ‘In the Courts’ column that used to appear in the Star many years ago may discourage these poor decisions.

Their anonymity is just another place for them to hide from their responsibilities. Apart from the culture of drinking and driving, there is equally sinister culture of not exposing these criminals for what and who they are.

Mike

Jan 8, 2014 at 5:47 pm

So 29 people charged, and 18 of those people let off with “24 hour license suspensions”. What kind of punishment is that? You could get busted on a Friday and be driving Sunday….woop de do. How about more severe charges including fines or vehicle impounding. Guarantee some of those 18 people would learn their lessons that way.

Jane Smith

Jan 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm

It must be very disheartening to be a police officer and read the majority of comments made in response to this article. Most commentators are either complaining about the RCMP (without having any idea of how much territory they have to cover, how many calls they have to respond to, all with too few officers) or being dismissive of the danger of drinking and driving. The point of the article is not that the police should catch more drunk drivers (although that would be great); the point of the article is that Yukoners should stop drinking and driving.

0.00 behind the wheel

Jan 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Jane it is you that is missing the point.  If there is no deterrent then people will continue to drive impaired.  It’s that simple.
I’m all for hefty fines, vehicle forfeiture, jail time and having the convicted publicly named.

You don’t police by saying “We’ll be out with the RIDE program this weekend” twice per year.  I’ve see people toss cans out the window of a truck in the middle of the day.  The stop checks should be both random in location and time of day.  I believe the the RCMP have no idea how many people drink and drive.

Then you’ll see the stats go down.

Jane Smith

Jan 11, 2014 at 1:58 pm

0.00 behind the wheel - the point of my comment is that police cannot be everywhere, all the time. There are many other crimes taking place alongside drinking and driving to which police must also respond. I don’t think I should have to live in a nanny state, where the police are around every corner checking on me to ensure I obey the law, because there is a population of a**holes who cannot seem to understand that you can drink, you can drive, but you cannot combine the two activities.

Regardless of the foregoing, 0.00 behind the wheel, you and I agree that impaired driving has to stop.

still pist

Jan 15, 2014 at 10:48 am

A couple years back I thought I’d be a good friend and drive my drunk friends home, and since I don’t drink I was the only sober one.  So on our way we come across a police check stop and of course those dumb….. had a couple open beer cans.  So we pull up to the officer and he gave me the usual spiel and asks if we have any liquor in the cab, and being a pretty honest person I said YES.  so long story short…..I ended up with a FINE just under $400.00 for trying to get my friends home safe!

north of 60

Jan 15, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Test for actual impairment, regardless of the cause.

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