Drivers fail to heed campaign awareness

It’s not a good start to the CounterAttack campaign in the North Okanagan

It’s not a good start to the CounterAttack campaign in the North Okanagan.

Statistics released by the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP show that over the weekend, Friday to Sunday, while there were no impaired driving charges laid, 14 motorists were issued 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibitions (IRPs).

The national CounterAttack campaign for RCMP, which targets drivers who have been drinking and/or taking drugs, officially started Saturday.

Overall last week, the Vernon-North Okanagan detachment handed out 18, 90-day IRPs and two three-day IRPs.

Five drivers were given 24-hour suspensions (three for alcohol, two for drugs) and one was given a 12-hour suspension for alcohol.

The numbers are high and baffling to the RCMP.

“I’m surprised it’s quite high, especially over the weekend,” said Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk. “People know, we’ve told them CounterAttack is coming, yet I don’t know why  people don’t learn and haven’t started to think ahead.

“Maybe they think it (getting caught) won’t happen to them or they’re not planning for another ride home but (14 on the weekend) is a high number.”

Several police watches conducted their own checks while members of the North Okanagan Traffic Services and Integrated Road Service Units conducted road checks on Highway 6 and 27th Street.

Some of the IRPs happened during the day and Molendyk reminders motorists that road checks can happen at any time, day or night.

“It could be a spot check or it could be an officer checking you because your driving is suspect,” he said. “At any given time throughout this holiday season, you could encounter a road check.”

Provincewide, the start of CounterAttack has been, according to RCMP, “disappointing.”

On Saturday, officers from 97 detachments in B.C. checked 32,877 vehicles across the province. Despite the publicity of the event, and education of the dangers of impaired driving, too many drivers still chose to get behind the wheel of their vehicle after consuming drugs or alcoholic beverages.

Across the province, preliminary results from the blitz included:

n Five impaired driving charges under the Criminal Code;

n 104 90-day IRPs with 30 vehicles impounded;

n 94 warning results with either three-, seven- or 30- day IRPs;

n 17 roadside suspensions for drugs.

“Impaired driving accidents are 100 per cent preventable,” said Cpl. Robert McDonald of B.C.’s E Division Traffic Services. “All people have to do is to plan ahead before consuming alcohol. It’s not hard – if you drink don’t drive.

“Driving while impaired is simply not acceptable, and it is not worth hurting innocent people or yourself.”