Figures released by the Edmonton Police Service on Wednesday suggest that despite a ramping up of checkstops and other initiatives aimed at catching drunk drivers, impaired driving arrests appeared to decline in 2016.
The EPS’ checkstop program involves sees officers setup to stop vehicles at specific locations and also employs roving patrols to look for impaired drivers. Police said the campaign isn’t only aimed at making arrests but also to educate drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Between checkstops and actions conducted through police’s Target All Drunk Drivers campaign, police said the number of impaired driving “operations” they undertook rose to 32 in 2016 as compared to 30 the year before. As a result, police checked an additional 608 vehicles in 2016.
However, total impaired driving arrests dropped by 9.5 percentage points: from 1,587 in 2015 to 1,437 in 2016.
Citing variables at play in each arrest, EPS declined comment on what the growth in impaired driving operations versus the decline in arrests meant. However, police did suggest efforts to address the issue of impaired driving should not let up.
Edmonton has one of the highest rates of impaired driving in Canada. On Dec. 14, 2016, Kent Morrison filed this report about what some young students are doing this winter to implore drivers not to get behind the wheel when they’re intoxicated.
“We have to continue to spread the message,” EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said. “If we have one person killed, it’s too many.”
Pattison also praised the public for how it has embraced EPS’ Curb the Danger program, an initiative encouraging citizens to report impaired drivers.
“The Curb the Danger program is fantastic,” he said. “Participation from the public is terrific.”
Police said a Curb the Danger call resulted in an arrest on New Year’s Eve in which they allege a woman drove her vehicle into a bus shelter. Police allege breath samples collected from her were more than double the limit of .08 (or 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood).
The EPS also released impaired driving numbers from its annual holiday checkstop campaign Wednesday, which covers operations and arrests made from Dec. 1-31.
The 2016 campaign saw 370 more vehicles checked than were checked in 2015. However, while roadside suspensions rose to 64 in 2016 from 59 in 2015, impaired driving arrests actually declined from 42 in 2015 to 41 in 2016.