By Brendan Miller on December 23, 2023.
The Medicine Hat Police Service would like to remind motorists to find a safe, sober ride home over the Holiday Season.
Police plan to continue to conduct regular check stops throughout the holidays to make sure drivers are complying with the rules and regulations of the roads.
“The main concern is that everybody gets home safe and has a safe Holiday Season,” says acting traffic Sgt. David Smith.
Police say the city offers numerous resources to ensure you can find a safe ride home, including taxis, ride-shares, having a designated driver or using a service that will drive your vehicle home for you.
“Alcohol has the ability to take away some common-sense thinking or logical thinking. So it’s another good strategy to make these arrangements prior to going out,” says Smith.
Driving impaired can be costly even for a first-time offender. You could face a minimum fine that starts with a 30-day vehicle seizure, $1,200 fine and a three-month licence suspension. That is followed by one year participation in an ignition interlock program to be covered at the owner’s expense. The province also mandates an educational safety course on impaired driving.
“When you take into consideration, do I take $20 or $25 cab ride? Or do I risk the safety of yourself and others in addition to all of these sanctions and possible criminal sanctions? There are consequences,” says Smith.
Legally an officer does not have to build suspicion of driver impairment. A federal change to the Criminal Code in 2018 implemented mandatory alcohol screening during a vehicle stop.
That means an officer with a roadside screening device can demand a driver provide an adequate sample of breath while conducting a traffic stop on a vehicle.
Police say to call 911 if you suspect an impaired driver and try to get the last known location and a licence plate.
“An officer would gladly investigate that complaint, rather than investigate a collision involving alcohol,” says Smith.
“We want everybody to have a happy holidays and merry Christmas and just for people to get home safe. This is a big thing. Because there’s nothing worse than having to explain to a family member or a loved one that their loved one is in the hospital, or worse,” says Smith.