The hunt for holiday drunk drivers continues and, even though only one person has been charged with impaired driving so far, local RCMP say there’s room for improvement.
Especially as the number of people charged has actually jumped within the last nine months.
“I would certainly be hoping to see zero drivers under the influence of alcohol,” Blue Hills RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike Zens said.
Manitoba RCMP released week three (Dec. 17-23) statistics for its Holiday Check Stop program.
During that time, 4,894 vehicles were checked at 99 stops and 35 people were charged with impaired driving or driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit.
On Thursday, Zens provided a total for the vehicles stopped by his officers during all three weeks of the program so far.
As of Dec. 23, Blue Hills RCMP had stopped a total of 139 vehicles during patrols and two checkstops.
Those stops resulted in 35 charges under the Highway Traffic Act —most of them for speeding — but no impaired driving charges.
The only impaired driving charges were laid as the result of a crash shortly after midnight on Dec. 21.
A pickup truck hit a hydro pole along Highway 10 south of Brandon.
A 19-year-old Killarney man escaped the crash with only minor injuries, but he now faces impaired driving charges.
Even though there has been only one incident that has resulted in drunk driving charges during the holiday campaign, Zens said the bigger picture isn’t pretty.
RCMP track statistics from April to April of each year and there has been a significant increase in the number of people charged with impaired driving in the Brandon area.
Since April 1, there have been 43 people charged.
That includes crashes that caused injuries and death.
During the entire previous year, it’s estimated that 35 people were charged.
The blood-alcohol level detected has reached as high as nearly four times the legal limit.
On the bright side, Zens said, even though Boxing Day socials have become popular, none of those parties brought drunk driving charges this year.
Patrolling officers have also been impressed with the number of designated drivers they’ve found behind the wheel.
Nevertheless, the Holiday Check Stop program continues until Jan. 2, with New Year’s Eve still to come.
Zens warns that local RCMP officers will continue to be on the lookout for tipsy and high-risk drivers.