Red Deer RCMP zeros in on impaired drivers

  • Jul. 16, 2014 8:16 p.m.

Red Deer RCMP have a new tool in their belts when it comes to nabbing impaired drivers – four Red Deer officers are now certified Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), accredited by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

These skills were put to good use last month when RCMP check stops identified two Red Deer drivers under the influence of drugs.

“DREs can identify and charge impaired drivers whether they’re on illicit street drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs or a combination of intoxicating substances,” said Cpl. Matt LaBelle with Red Deer RCMP Traffic Services.

“DREs are called in when drivers perform poorly on field sobriety tests and alcohol has been ruled out as a factor. They are trained to administer psychophysical tests and conduct clinical examinations, including pupil size, reaction to light, blood pressure, pulse rate, body temperature and muscle tone. If they believe the driver is impaired by a particular drug, DREs can demand a blood, urine or saliva sample.”

LaBelle said Red Deerians will see increased check stops year-round as RCMP zero in on impaired drivers. While impaired driving is a year-round issue, Red Deer RCMP see the highest numbers of casualty collisions involving impaired drivers during warm weather months.

Most occur on weekends, and impaired driving collisions also tend to increase around long weekends.

“Drivers who choose to drive impaired don’t only face the possibility of killing themselves, their friends or someone else, they also face very serious legal, financial and social consequences,” said LaBelle. “Now that RCMP have increased our ability to detect and prosecute drug-impaired drivers, we hope more people will make the right choice instead of the dangerous one.”

A number of infractions were discovered during a recent check stop in Red Deer last month. Two drug-impaired drivers were arrested and have charges pending, two 30-day suspensions were given out for GDL drivers blowing 0-50 mg%, one 72-hour suspension was handed down for a driver who blew 50-100 mg%, two 24-hour suspensions for drivers who had consumed drugs were also issued and two suspended drivers were charged and their vehicles seized for a minimum of 30 days.

As well, two people were charged with driving without insurance (starting fine is $2,875), there was also one charge of possession of stolen property, one charge of breaching conditions of a release, as well, five arrest warrants were executed and 13 other provincial charges were also given during the check stop.

Citizens are encouraged to report impaired drivers by calling 911 with the license plate (partial plates are also useful), colour and make of vehicle, location and direction of travel.

– Fawcett