Airdrie RCMP officers stopped more than 600 drivers and issued nine immediate roadside sanctions (IRS) on Oct. 9 and 10, as part of a local check stop blitz over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The weekend blitz was a part of Operation Impact – a public awareness campaign that focuses on education and enforcement of impaired driving due to alcohol, drugs, and other factors, including distracted driving, fatigue, and misuse of seatbelts or children’s car seats. This year’s theme was: Be a hero. Aim for zero.
“We do check stops throughout the year but they’re always a main focus during those holiday weekends,” said Cst. Tracy Hare with the Airdrie RCMP.
“We checked over 600 vehicles, with all the drivers providing mandatory alcohol screening, so their breath samples.”
According to Hare, Airdrie RCMP, in collaboration with Alberta Sherriffs, issued four IRS fails, three IRS warnings, and two IRS zero-novice sanctions to motorists on the night of Oct. 9 and early morning hours of Oct. 10.
She added an IRS fail is issued to a motorist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood or higher, while an IRS warning is issued to a motorist with a BAC ranging from 0.05 to 0.08 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
“In Alberta, they recognize that even being at 0.05, it’s still a risk to be driving on the road,” Hare said.
A zero-novice IRS, according to Hare, is issued to a novice driver or learner’s permit holder who has any sign of alcohol in their blood concentration, regardless of the amount.
Hare said RCMP always hopes not to issue any reprimands over holiday weekend check stop blitzes, but that is rarely the case, as the celebratory nature of those weekends tends to produce an influx of impaired motorists.
“We had a lot of drivers who provided breath samples that registered alcohol but didn’t meet the thresholds for those specific sanctions,” she said. “Having one glass of wine or one beer and then driving doesn’t always result in a suspension.”
Hare added RCMP officers were also on the lookout for distracted driving, aggressive behaviour, seat belt non-compliance and other traffic violations.
Given the consequences of impaired driving – which range from fines and licence suspensions to potential imprisonment, depending on the circumstances – Hare said RCMP would like to promote safer alternatives when people are celebrating or consuming alcohol.
“The Airdrie RCMP has a huge focus on impaired driving throughout the year,” she said. “We want to remind drivers there are alternatives to having those drinks and then driving – cabs, Ubers, planning ahead with a designated driver, or spending the night. Anything that can avoid having drivers who have consumed alcohol out on the roads.”