RCMP begin holiday checkpoints, lay impaired driving charges

·3 min read

P.E.I. RCMP began setting up their annual holiday checkpoints this week and charges have already been laid.

Every year, the Mounties set up checkpoints at different times of day in varying areas of the province to deter impaired driving around Christmas and New Year celebrations.

"Around the holidays, unfortunately, we seem to see and apprehend more impaired drivers on the road," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Kevin Baillie.

"We often set up checkpoints on some of the less-travelled roads, the back roads… Unfortunately, sometimes when people are drinking, they've had a drink or two or more, they'll take the back road and try to avoid the main highways."

2 impaired drivers caught this week

On Tuesday, RCMP had set up a checkpoint on Route 6 in Corran Ban.

"They'd only been there about 15 minutes when they saw a vehicle approached the checkpoint, turn around and try to avoid going through it," Baillie said.

"The officers were able to stop that vehicle."

A 51-year-old man then failed a roadside test and was taken to the Queens District office, where he provided breath samples over the legal limit, RCMP say.

"This driver is being charged with impaired driving and driving over 80 milligrams," said Baillie.

He added: "This same individual had been caught and convicted of driving over 80 milligrams back in 2018 and at that time received a 15-day jail sentence and other penalties."

You could still be over the legal limit, even though you haven't had any alcohol to drink for seven or eight hours. — Staff Sgt. Kevin Baillie, P.E.I. RCMP

Then on Wednesday at 8:40 a.m., RCMP noticed a 40-year-old man driving without a seatbelt on. After the vehicle was stopped, the officer noticed the smell of alcohol on the man's breath.

He provided a breath sample into a roadside screening device, which produced a 'warn' reading. His driver's license was then suspended for seven days.

Baillie said these two situations are not wins for the RCMP.

"We'd much rather measure success by going out and not catching any impaired drivers."

Daytime charges not uncommon

Both of these situations involved impaired drivers during the daytime.

Although most of the RCMP's impaired driving charges are laid in connection with nighttime incidents, Baillie said daytime incidents like these are not uncommon — particularly this year.

"Whether or not COVID has had any effect, it's hard to say," he said.

"We seem to have apprehended more impaired drivers in the daytime in 2020 than we have had other years."

He calls it "concerning" that people are consuming alcohol during the day.

In other cases, Baillie said, the RCMP catch people who had been drinking the night before, but their blood alcohol levels are still high.

"Everybody's body dissipates alcohol at a different rate," he said.

"If someone has had a fair bit to drink the night before, if you're going out the next morning, you could still be over the legal limit, even though you haven't had any alcohol to drink for seven or eight hours."

If you find yourself in a situation you didn't plan for... try to make arrangements to stay where you're at or get some sort of other transportation . - RCMP Staff Sgt. Kevin Baillie

With impaired driving, Baillie said the repercussions can be more broad than the risk of killing yourself or others.

Those caught at checkpoints or at any time of year could see hefty insurance increases, jail time, a criminal record and difficulty crossing international borders, including the ones into the United States.

"Don't get yourself in a situation where you've had too much to drink or you've had another, you know, other intoxicating substances and you have no way to get where you have to go," Baillie said.

"If you find yourself in a situation you didn't plan for… try to make arrangements to stay where you're at or get some sort of other transportation rather than get in the vehicle and drive."

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