The streets are quiet as the moon takes its place high above the Okanagan skies, casting its radiant midnight glow upon the city.
Below on the streets, vehicles make their way to and from Christmas parties. Suddenly, a vehicle that is swerving and moving too fast skids across the slushy roads, narrowly missing the other vehicles.
The driver, on their way home from a staff Christmas party, had been drinking.
It’s just this scenario that RCMP hope to mitigate with their Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program.
“The province wanted consequences for the driver to be timely and effective,” said Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Sgt. Colby Attlesey, who was a trainer for the IRP program when it was rolled out to police to help alleviate the backlog of drinking-driving cases that can clog the court system’s pipes.
Prior to the program, those caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol weren’t penalized until after the criminal matter was settled — a process that could take years.
Moreover, the courts have added that police are authorized to pull over a vehicle to ensure the operator is sober. And, if the driver blows over the limit or refuses to provide a breath sample, they can be immediately taken off the road and dealt with appropriately, with punishments varying on the blood alcohol content.
What IRP does, then, is help curb the problem as it occurs, rather than passing the punishment down the line.
And as the holiday season rolls in and road conditions worsen, anything that can be done to improve road safety and take impaired drivers off the road is a worthwhile endeavour.
It’s a program to ensure that everyone, driver included, makes it home safely.