EDMONTON- Edmonton police had a busy holiday Checkstop season, and the numbers show that many drivers are still getting behind the wheel while impaired.
“It’s the same message that we’ve always been saying. We want people to plan ahead and stop drinking and driving,” said Acting Sergeant David Green with the Edmonton Police Service.
Police ran 14 operations in December, during which they made 73 arrests for impaired driving, handed out 86 roadside suspensions and laid 14 criminal charges.
During each enforcement operation, an average of 5.2 people were charged with impaired driving, compared to 6.6 people in December of 2011.
In total, more people were arrested and charged for impaired driving in 2012 versus 2011 but, officers say that is partly due to an increased number of Checkstop operations.
“The sad reality is the statistics are pretty much unchanged from the average year-to-year,” said Green.
While the average number of impaired arrests remains stable, police say they are seeing a positive shift amongst young people.
“That 16 to 24 year age group, you know, 20 years ago they might have been the higher offenders. Today we’re seeing they’re very involved, before they go out they have a designated driver or they will take a cab and they plan before they even go out,” explained Edmonton’s Police Chief Rod Knecht.
Knecht believes that shift comes down to education.
“We’re seeing the benefits of getting into the schools and talking to those young people and they’re graduating and they’re getting their licenses and they’ve already got that mindset before they even get behind the wheel,” Knecht explained, “The enforcement is not the answer, it’s obviously public education, it’s public pressure. This is just not acceptable, for people to be driving around highly impaired or impaired in any way, shape or form.”
It’s a method that’s already proven successful for one Edmonton area teen. 15-year-old Amy Griffith says a video presentation at her school on the dangers of drinking and driving really impacted her.
“It’s actually really effective watching what happens to people and their families,” Griffith said, “It’s something you remember, so it helps a lot.”EPS released the following Checkstop statistics Friday. However, officers urge people not to look too far into the numbers as factors such as staffing, weather, time of year and location can impact enforcement operations.
With files from Laurel Clark.