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Out of 175 vehicles stopped in the evening of May 22, there were no incidents of suspected drinking and driving found, police say.

“There were a few registration and insurance paper issues, and one incident of someone driving with an expired out-of-territory license. We gave some warnings but there no impairments. I’m happy with that outcome. It means people are listening to our messages,” Cpl. Sam Munden told Yellowknifer.

On the occasion of National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day and for National Road Safety Week, police officers stopped drivers on the highway, checked their insurance and registration and asked if they had been drinking.

Motorists line up at the checkstop on the Ingraham Trail. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

From May 18 to 24 for the safety week, RCMP posted #NotWorthTheRisk messaging on Facebook targeting lack of seatbelt usage, speeding, distracted driving, aggressive driving and driving impaired by alcohol and cannabis.

Cst. Andrew Moore, who worked at checkstops along Highway 3 down to Fort Providence and in the Yellowknife area, noted that since May 18 he hadn’t pulled over any impaired drivers.

“Since Tuesday there have been some speeding and alcohol seizures, out of several hundred interactions with vehicles,” he said. “Usually there are impairment incidents over this weekend, so this year is unusual. Part of the social media presence and enforcement is education. It’s not about trapping people and punishing them.”

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During holiday periods when police do often find impaired drivers, it’s the result of people having a few drinks and taking a chance behind the wheel.

Cpl. Terence Dunphy checks a driver’s registration papers. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

“Some will say ‘I’ve only had two drinks.’ And when they take a breath test they fail. But when they see our check stops they’ll choose to take other options than driving. If we get no impaired drivers, that is as successful to me as getting five or six impaired drivers, because education is an important component,” Cpl. Munden said.

When police suspect a driver has been drinking, or can smell alcohol, they use an Approved Screening Device (ASD) to test the drivers breath. The maximum reading it gives is 80 mg per 100 ml of blood, a level that represents a fail for the driver and results in a 24-hour driving license suspension.

Blowing a “fail” also leads to an investigation into impairment under the Criminal Code, which includes testing the driver’s breath again at the police detachment using a different machine which gives more specific blood-alcohol level readings.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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