Last week, the Regional Traffic Services division of the local RCMP detachment told the Observer they had just one impaired driving infraction on New Year’s Eve in Quesnel.
Cst. Rob Marshall seemed as impressed as we were with this number. New Year’s Eve is known as a night of revelry, and so members of Traffic Services had set up numerous road blocks throughout the night, to screen drivers on their way to and from their parties.
Cst. Marshall said that overall during the holiday season, he’d seen low numbers of driving infractions due to impaired driving – the division’s campaign against drunk driving had been ongoing from the end of November until early January.
It was heartening to hear that Quesnel residents acted responsibly on the roads over the holiday season. It seems the constant messaging of the last however many years is really getting through – and this, despite predictions that there will be high numbers of impaired drivers due to the legalization of cannabis in October.
And it’s good timing for drivers to begin to take the lesson to heart, with the country having ushered in stricter penalties for impaired drivers as of mid-December 2018. The new rules give police officers the right to ask for a breath sample from any driver they lawfully stop, lowering the bar from the previous legislation, which required that an officer have reasonable suspicion that a person had been drinking.
The new rules allow for maximum penalties for alcohol-impaired drivers of 10-year sentences, up from five. According to federal statistics, an average of almost four people die in Canada daily due to impaired driving.
There’s no excuse for driving drunk – a ride is usually just a phone call away, or at worst, we all have two feet and a heartbeat. If Quesnel’s New Year’s Eve is any indication, our residents know this, and even in an alcohol-induced haze, can make the right decision.
It’s a great statistic to ring in 2019. Let’s see the low numbers of drunk driving infractions continue.
-Quesnel Cariboo Observer