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This article was published 12/10/2017 (251 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Brandon drivers don’t seem to be getting the message about drunk driving.
Between January and Oct. 4 of this year, Brandon police charged more people for impaired related offences than all of 2016 combined, according to the Brandon Police Service.
In 2016, there were 121 people charged with impaired related offences — including impaired driving, care and control of a motor vehicle while impaired, and failing or refusing to provide breath samples.
So far this year, Brandon police have handed out 136 charges for impaired-related offences. This year has also included two people being charged with care and control of a motor vehicle while impaired with drugs and one person failing to provide a blood sample.
"This is people not getting the message," Sgt. Dave Andrew said. "It’s a concern for the police and the citizens of Brandon that individuals continue to not heed the warnings and not listen to the messages that are constantly put out regarding the dangers of driving while impaired."
The increase is not due to lack of awareness, Andrew said.
"We have a number of initiatives throughout the year where targeted enforcement is set up to target numerous offences … Our patrol members and traffic members are always on the look out for people who might be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs," Andrew said. "It is no longer tolerated, it is no longer going to be accepted, and we are doing our best to enforce these laws and stop as many vehicles as we can to catch those who still choose to make the poor decision of driving while impaired."
Brandon has had multiple reminders recently of the serious consequences drinking and driving can have.
Last week, a three-vehicle collision on Kirkcaldy Drive sent six people to hospital — including a five-year-old child with head injuries. Speed, alcohol and drug use are believed to be factors in the accident and charges are against one of the drivers is pending.
Speed and alcohol were also considered factors in a crash last Friday in the 500 block of Lorne Avenue, which required the Jaws of Life to remove a passenger and sent three to hospital.
On Wednesday, a Brandon man was arrested for impaired driving after driving off the road and into the Assiniboine River.
"It’s actually a real shock what’s been going on in Manitoba," said chief executive officer of MADD Canada, Andrew Murie. "There’s been quite a dramatic rise, not just in Brandon, but in Winnipeg and other parts of Manitoba as well … We’re not seeing that in the rest of the country."
Other provinces across Canada have seen an uptick in driving while under the influence of drugs, said Murie, adding that has a lot to do with the pending legislation of marijuana. But as for drunk driving, the rest of the country is on a downward trend.
"The biggest thing Manitoba doesn’t have that the rest of the country does is that … most provinces now impound vehicles. So if you lose your license for three days, like you do in Manitoba, they also impound your vehicle for three days," Murie said. "That’s made a dramatic difference, and Manitoba has really resisted that piece, and I think it’s been a major mistake."
Saskatchewan has put this type of program in place recently, Murie said, and the difference it has made has been staggering.
"I’ve heard all kinds of different reasons as to why Manitoba doesn’t want to take vehicles away … sometimes you have to make tough decisions to get people to change their habits," Murie said.
If drivers on the road suspect they see an impaired driver on the road, Andrew said to take down a description of the car and the driver if possible, the license plate and the last known location and call 911.
"Officers can be dispatched as quickly as possible in order to prevent that person who may be operating a vehicle while impaired," Andrew said.
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