Saanich Peninsula police always hunting for imapired drivers

Awareness checkpoints over the holiday season are only a small part of traffic enforcement.

Constable Scott Seutter with Sidney North Saanich RCMP speaks with a driver along Central Saanich Road and Mt. Newton Cross Road. Police on the Saanich Peninsula and across B.C. are conducting roadside checks

Police are looking for impaired drivers as part of the Counter Attack campaign taking place across the province this month.

Officers with Central Saaich Police Service and the Sidney North Saanich RCMP and ICBC Road Safety co-ordinator, Colleen Woodger were at the intersection of Mt. Newton Cross Road and Central Saanich Road recently, checking many cars that went by, raising awareness about the risks associated with impaired driving.

“In December we just really like to get into all the communities so that’s why we’re out here on the Peninsula to remind people that Counter Attacks are everywhere and we all have a responsibility to keep our roads safe,” Woodger told the PNR.

There are two Counter Attack campaigns a year, one in December and one in July and Woodger said provincially, 83 people die each year as a result of impaired driving crashes and on Vancouver Island alone, 13 die in similar incidents.

“And those are preventable crashes, those are crashes that someone should have made a better choice, should have planned ahead …” she said.

Police began checking drivers in the morning and Woodger said even with peak hours being 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. for most incidents, they still get impaired drivers in the morning, not realizing they are still impaired. RCMP Constable Scott Seutter said police pull impaired drivers off the roads at any time during the day, with weekend evenings being most common.

“In terms of apprehending impaired drivers, they happen at all times of the day. I can’t say that there is one time of the day that is worse than others. We have apprehended impaired drivers at noon who have blown three times the legal limit,” he said.

Also on the side of the road, lit up in lights was ICBC’s crash car, showcasing the dangers of drinking and driving. It’s something Woodger said really hits home with people.

Seutter said that within the RCMP’s traffic services framework, the Sidney North Saanich detachment has two dedicated officers assigned to traffic enforcement and education. That involves daily road checks.

“We’re looking for the drivers that are still under the influence from the previous night of indulging and sometimes we are finding drivers who suffer from alcohol addiction based problems and are driving vehicles in impaired states at all times of the day,” he said.

Road checks occur multiple nights in the week, he said, adding drivers can expect to come through a road check every Friday or Saturday night and may come into morning checks at any time.

On the education side of things, Seutter said officers make presentations at local high schools, speaking with youth who, he said, are a high-risk demographic for drinking and driving.

“We’re trying to give them a message of abstaining from consuming alcohol until they are a legal age and if they’re going to do so just like any other adult, we want them to be responsible and we want them to have a designated driver or transit or getting their parents to come pick them up.”

Seutter said police have noticed an increase in impaired driving incidents on the Saanich Peninsula over the last year.

“On the Peninsula, specifically within Sidney and North Saanich, we’ve noticed an increase in the apprehension,” he explained, “and I think that comes in part because we’ve had an increase in the enforcement.

“So if we weren’t doing any of the enforcement, we probably wouldn’t find half as many impaired drivers. But the more effort we spend … doing the road checks, we are apprehending more drivers who are under the influence and we’re making the community safer by removing those drivers from our roadways.”