Alberta-wide checkstop blitz on Dec. 3 targets impaired drivers

Alberta RCMP are warning motorists about a checkstop blitz planned for Saturday, Dec. 3.

The large-scale operation will include hundreds of sheriffs from across the province working together to stop impaired driving.

RCMP said the checkstops will run throughout Saturday and into Sunday morning. Some checkstops will be mobile and moving locations in order to cover as much of the province as possible.

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    Drivers suspected of being impaired will be subject to road-side sobriety tests that may result in immediate licence suspensions and/or criminal charges.

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    “Having a checkstop blitz in early December provides a very visible reminder that the RCMP, with the help of the Alberta Sheriffs, will be out on the roads throughout the holiday season on the lookout for impaired drivers,” Insp. Steve Daley said in a Thursday news release.

    The blitz is part of the RCMP’s National Day of Enforcement campaign and serves as the kickoff for Impaired Driving Enforcement Month.

    Although this specific event takes place this weekend, RCMP said it marks the beginning of a month of increased and enhanced checkstops throughout the province.

    The blitz comes as the provincial government and anti-impaired driving activists are reminding Albertans driving after smoking marijuana is no safer than driving drunk.

    On Thursday, the province issued a news release with figures it says backs up its claim. According to the government, 82 Alberta drivers killed in collisions in 2012 tested positive for drugs. By comparison, 71 drivers who died in crashes tested positive for alcohol that same year.

    READ MORE: 153 drivers nabbed in Alberta checkstop blitz

    “While society has made significant inroads against impaired driving, drugged driving is on the rise and Albertans need to be aware of that,” Transportation Brian Mason said in the statement. “In the eyes of the law, there is no difference between drunk driving and drugged driving. That is because alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s ability and increase the risk of an otherwise fully preventable crash.”

    According to the province, driving performance studies have shown cannabis use increases the likelihood of drivers swerving, having difficulty keeping a safe distance from other vehicles and speeding.

    “While SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Alberta continues to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving among Alberta’s youth, we have received alarming feedback about the increase of drug-impaired driving and the casual attitude many young people take toward the risks associated with it,” SADD Alberta’s Arthur Lee said in a statement. “Drug-impaired driving will likely surpass alcohol-impaired driving soon and it’s a topic we’re going to address with our Alberta schools going forward.”

    According to the RCMP, 3,880 people were charged with impaired driving between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2016. Of those, 11 were charged with impaired driving causing death and 29 were charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm.

    With files from Phil Heidenreich

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