Celebrating responsibly this holiday season

‘Tis the season for celebrating – and that means inevitably a spike in partiers who have one drink too many and then decide they are then fit to drive.

Last month, MADD Canada launched their annual Project Red Ribbon with the aim of preventing impaired driving this holiday season. It’s just in time for the annual slate of office parties, family get-togethers and other functions to serve as a reminder of the importance of not drinking and driving.

Project Red Ribbon runs through to the first Monday after New Year’s. Over one million ribbons are distributed to Canadians during Project Red Ribbon.

The ribbon reminds people to plan ahead for a safe ride home if they’re going to be drinking. It also serves as a tribute to those who have been killed or injured in impairment-related crashes.

It’s frustrating that the numbers of reported impaired drivers are as high as they are, in spite of constant educational and awareness campaigns and the tireless efforts of MADD volunteers.

For some reason, people still choose to get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking assuming they are in complete control. The cost to such irresponsibility is staggering.

Officials remind citizens to never drive impaired or ride with an impaired driver. And if you see a driver you suspect is impaired, call 911 to report it.

Meanwhile, to avoid potential tragedy, it’s as easy as simply planning ahead by arranging for a designated driver, calling a cab or ensuring you have someone you trust to pick you up when it’s time to head home.

Red Deer RCMP and Community Peace Officers (CPOs) were busy earlier this month targeting high-risk drivers through a downtown enforcement campaign, and two weekend checkstops that were part of the national Operation Impact campaign.

Since then, they have also had a blitz of checkstops over the last couple of weekends as well. Just last weekend, four people were charged with impaired driving and two 72-hour suspensions were given.

Over the course of these initiatives, RCMP arrested two impaired drivers, charged several for refusing breath demands, issued several roadside suspensions, seized a number of vehicles, arrested two people on outstanding warrants and issued numerous traffic tickets.

On Dec. 2nd, RCMP Traffic members, the Community Response Unit and CPOs focused their attention on the downtown, patrolling in police cars and on foot for high-risk driving behaviours including distracted driving, speeding, seat belt violations and impaired driving.

They also focused attention on public safety/disorder crimes such as public intoxication, aggressive panhandling, public urination and other behaviours that negatively impact the public’s ability to enjoy community spaces.

RCMP issued 23 Traffic Safety Act tickets, four warnings and made one drug arrest that day.

On Dec. 6th and 7th, Red Deer RCMP operated revolving checkstops at four locations in the City; over those two nights, police checked a total of approximately 550 vehicles, with the following results – two impaired drivers (over 80 mg%) arrested and charged (vehicles were seized for three days); one 72-hour suspension for blowing 50-100 mg% (vehicle was seized for three days); two refusals (refusal of breath demand results in Criminal Code charges); one flight from police, one obstruction of peace officer, four cases of no driver’s license/suspended driver; 25 other moving/non-moving violations and two warrants executed.

“Whether we’re talking about impaired driving, speeding or distracted driving, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the safety of our roads. If someone is impaired, don’t let them drive. If they choose to drive impaired, or distracted, or make other choices that put you and the community at risk, report them,” said Sgt. Al Nickolson of the Red Deer RCMP. “It can be a difficult conversation to have, but, if you choose to say nothing and someone gets hurt, living with yourself will be even harder.”

We hope all Red Deerians take time to make plans and choose wisely this holiday season when it comes to alcohol consumption.

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