Motorists reminded to enjoy the Christmas season responsibly – never drink and drive

’Tis the season for the annual Christmas Check Stop campaign. Check Stops will be held throughout the month of December and into the New Year as part of an enhanced effort to get impaired drivers off the road.

Police are reminding motorists never to drink and drive and anyone who observes a suspected impaired driver is asked to call 911 immediately if it is safe and lawful to do so.

Check Stop locations and times will vary throughout Lethbridge and Coaldale. The primary goal of the program is to identify and apprehend impaired drivers but police will also be checking for valid documentation including driver’s licenses, vehicle registration and insurance as well as equipment, liquor and other violations.

Police remind motorists that administrative penalties begin for drivers caught with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of over .05. At .05 drivers will face an immediate three-day license suspension and three-day vehicle seizure on a first offence. Individuals with a Graduated Driver’s License who are found with any blood alcohol face an immediate 30-day license suspension and seven-day vehicle seizure.

All drivers charged with impaired driving will have their license suspended until the charge is resolved in court. Their vehicle will be seized – three days on a first offence and seven days for subsequent offences. Upon conviction drivers will also require a mandatory ignition interlock for one year on the first conviction, three years for the second conviction and five years for the third conviction.

During the 2013 Check Stop campaign police charged seven people with impaired driving. Last year’s efforts also yielded 10 immediate roadside sanctions, three suspended drivers, 22 drivers with no operating license, 13 unregistered vehicles, four uninsured vehicles, 17 Gaming and Liquor violations and 105 provincial statute violations.

Police remind all motorists that impairment begins with the first drink. Consuming any type of alcohol affects your judgment, reaction time and perception.

According to provincial statistics, from 2008 to 2012 on average each year more than 90 people were killed and 1,480 were injured in collisions involving at least one driver who had consumed alcohol prior to the crash.

If you are going to drink, plan ahead for a safe ride home. Designate a sober driver (who does not drink any alcohol), call a taxi, use public transportation or contact a drive-home service, such as Operation Red Nose.

**Sgt. Jim Olsen, Traffic Response Unit, will be available for media interviews Thursday, Dec. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at the police station. This will be the only opportunity for on-camera interviews**