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ReadTheNorth: RCMP in B.C. taking aim against drunk drivers

By Marcus Hondro     Dec 9, 2015 in Crime
In Canada the fight against drunk drivers is something police forces take seriously and the RCMP in B.C. have set the bar for the country's holiday season. Last Friday night they hit the streets with province-wide checkpoints and got impressive results.
ReadTheNorth is a new column providing a weekly take on important Canadian news.
CounterAttack Blitzes
In 3 categories relating to drunk driving the Mounties produced figures in their CounterAttack Blitz that should scare anyone who'd consider driving while under the influence:
1) they set up 157 roadblocks across the province;
2) they pulled over more than 24,000 vehicles;
3) they took into custody — and more importantly got off the streets — 116 drunk drivers.
In one night.
"B.C. has some of the toughest impaired driving laws in Canada and police are dedicated to enforcing these laws; not only during December, but all year long," B.C. RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke told media. "And we need our communities to support our efforts."
Operating a vehicle while drunk is on the decline in Canada but statistics show it is continuing to take a grim toll. Between 2008 and 2012, 793 people were killed in the country as a result of a drunk driver; those numbers do not include incidents in which only the drunk driver was killed so most of those dead are the victims of someone else's poor, and cruel, choice.
That is a lot of kids losing a parent, a lot of kids being lost, and a lot of families losing loved ones. And it is a lot of criminal activity that impacts Canada in many ways that can never be fully measured.
Efforts to prevent drunk driving in Canada began in1921 when "driving while intoxicated" was included in the Canadian Criminal Code. Amendments were made to impaired driving legislation in the 1950s as penalties became stiffer. The 0.8 percent blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) ratio was introduced in 1969.
The 70s saw the advent of sobriety checkpoints and the 80s saw non-profit groups spring up to campaign against drunk driving, most created by victims and the families of victims of drunk driving. While the most significant of those groups, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) began in California in 1980, it did not come into full force in Canada until the 90s. It's a prominent part of the battle against driving while intoxicated in the country now.
Catching repeat offenders
In the U.S. 30 people die every day, one traffic fatality every 51 minutes due to a drunk driver. In 2013 an incredible 10,076 persons died in collisions involving a drunk driver in America, 200 of them aged 14 and younger. Police forces in that country, too, take steps to prevent it but there too it continues.
Driving under the influence is generating a lot of grief and society has tried to stop it for a long time and yet, as Friday's haul of drunk drivers in B.C. attests, it still happens. In fact many drink and drive over and over again. According to MADD one-third of all those arrested or convicted for impaired driving are repeat offenders, which shows how tough the job police forces have really is. Some simply do not want to get the message.
When that is the case, when drivers continue to get in to their vehicles and drive while under the influence despite the efforts of police and groups like MADD and even despite having been convicted of drunk driving previously, these CounterAttack blitzes become one of the few remaining tools society has to make the roads safer.
RCMP in B.C. clearly understand that and now another 116 drivers in the province do, too. Sadly, numbers tell us that some won't understand it ever and so the final word goes to B.C. RCMP Supt. Cooke:
"Friends, colleagues and loved ones need to hold each other accountable," he said. "We encourage road users to call 911 when they suspect an impaired driver."
More about Rcmp, Impaired driving, Drunk driving
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