December holiday blitz nabs dozens of drunk drivers in Edmonton

by Janet French

42 drivers took an unplanned holiday jaunt to police cells in December when officers caught them apparently impaired behind the wheel.

Another 72 tipsy drivers temporarily lost their licences during December, according to numbers released Thursday by the Edmonton Police Service.

In December, police increased roadway checkstops and roving patrols near clubs and restaurants. One 49 yr old man blew a breath sample of 0.19 grams per 100 millilitres, which is more than double the maximum legal limit of 0.08 g/100 mL. Police charged him with impaired driving.

The police ran 13 impaired driving operations in December and checked 3,530 vehicles, which was slightly higher than in December 2016. They suspended eight more licences than in December 2016.

In 2017 overall, Edmonton police came across fewer impaired drivers compared to the year before. Although officers checked more vehicles compared to last year, the number of impaired driving arrests was down 15 percent, to 127 arrests in 2017. The 188 roadside suspensions in 2017 was down 10 percent from the previous year.

Although unsafe drivers are one target of checkstops, they also exist to educate the public about the risks of impaired driving, police spokeswoman Cheryl Voordenhout said in a news release.

Driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 g/100 mL is a criminal offence in Alberta, as is refusing to provide a breath sample to a police officer. Driver's licences are suspended until the charge is resolved. A first offence earns a driver a three day vehicle seizure, a requirement to attend a safety course and an interlock device on the ignition that will only allow the car to start if the driver blows a clean breath sample.

As of July 2012, driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 g/100 ml or higher can also result in a three day licence suspension and three day vehicle seizure on first offence.

New drivers in the graduated driver's licence program cannot have any alcohol in their blood when driving. If caught, they will earn an immediate 30 day licence suspension and a seven day vehicle seizure.