News / Edmonton

Holiday impaired driving numbers hold steady in 2017 police say

Officers disappointed but not surprised people continue to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol

A police officer removes an open bottle of beer from a motorist's car during a roadside check.

DARRYL DYCK / CP

A police officer removes an open bottle of beer from a motorist's car during a roadside check.

The number of people charged with impaired driving in Edmonton over the holidays remained steady this year, which police say is disappointing if not suprising.

Edmonton officers laid 42 impaired driving charges this December, compared to 41 last year and 42 in 2015. Four of those charges were laid on New Year's Eve alone.

They also issued 72 roadside suspensions, which is a slight increase over previous years.

“I’m disappointed. Those people that are being arrested for impaired driving are putting my family at risk, they’re putting everybody at risk,” said Sgt. Robert Davis, with Edmonton Police Service’s impaired driving unit.

“We’re in the type of business where we’d like to be out of business. I’ve love to have an operation where we had zero impaired drivers arrested.”

Davis said that despite public education efforts by police and other groups there are still the "small percentage" of people making poor choices. "Those are the people we’re running across," he said.

He said it's discouraging that the behaviour continues in Edmonton at a consistent rate, and worries rates could rise after marijuana legalization.

"We’re probably going to expect differences in impaired drivers by drugs," he said. “Unfortunately, we’re likely going to have an increase there.”

Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht recently told Metro he doesn’t believe police are prepared to adequately screen for drug-impaired driving by the time cannabis is legalized.

The federal government had pledged for legalization to become law by July 1, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said it could be later in the year.

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