RCMP Highway Patrol were out in full force in Lake Country Saturday, pulling drivers aside to mark National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day.
A road check was in place on Highway 97 just south of Oceola Road, one of many highway locations checked throughout the province.
In a 12 hour span from Dec. 4 to the early hours of Dec. 5, 29 impaired drivers were removed from Okanagan roads.
Sgt. Bryce Peterson said the purpose behind BC Highway Patrol’s CounterAttack campaign is simple: “If we can reduce the number of people who are out there drinking or consuming, then we’ve done our job.”
It’s not just alcohol and cannabis; even those who are on medications or painkillers can be considered impaired drivers.
“The fact is it’s not just illegal drugs, but it’s also your prescription drugs,” said Peterson. “Our object is to get you to realize that if you are under the influence of anything, whether it’s alcohol or drugs, please don’t get behind the wheel and drive.”
Demonstrating the number of impaired drivers on the roads, Peterson said BC Highway Patrol has five drug recognition experts in Kelowna alone, with many more across the province.
When pulling over drivers, officers look for a number of signs to detect impairment — anything from bloodshot eyes to slurred speech or irregular hand motions.
“A person may try and use a masking agent and that’s one of the reasons why the federal government allowed the mandatory test for an alcohol screening device at the roadside,” Peterson said.
Some drivers refuse to take the mandatory blow test, Peterson said, adding the penalty for refusing the test is the same as for providing a failed test.
More checkstops will be put in place throughout the holiday season during the month-long CounterAttack campaign in B.C.