inSide staffer subject to mock drunk driving arrest | DrumhellerMail
01302023Mon
Last updateSat, 28 Jan 2023 4pm

inSide staffer subject to mock drunk driving arrest

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    inSide Drumheller graphic designer Laura Schmidt discovered first hand the consequences laid on those who drive impaired this holiday season.

    Drumheller RCMP led Schmidt through every step of the process: being pulled over, blowing through the roadside detection kit, being detained in the back of a cop car and the final intoxilyzer test given at the detachment.
    “It was uncomfortable, even though I knew it wasn’t real. Definitely not a place I'd want to be,” said Schmidt, who although doesn’t have her driver’s licence, will keep the long processing in mind before she ever gets behind the wheel impaired.
    “I can’t imagine what these officers go through, trying to get straight answers and going through processing with intoxicated people.”
    Corporal Mike Black has seen the effects of drunk driving first hand.
    “It’s like cancer, we all know someone who has been hurt or killed by impaired drivers,” said Cpl. Black.
    In Alberta, if you blow over the .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) reading, you may be charged with operating a vehicle while impaired, bringing a first offence fine of $1,000. For a second conviction, a judge may hand you a prison term of no less than 30 days, and any subsequent violations garner not less than 120 days in jail. Impaired operation of a vehicle which causes bodily harm can result in a prison term up to 10 years.
    Centre Street Insurance broker/owner Susan Kolenz told inSide Drumheller insurance premiums triple when convicted of a criminal code offence like impaired driving. The second offence in a short period of time will see it go up 450 per cent.
    “You’ll be walking for a long time,” said Kolenz. “Those who try to sneak home two blocks from the pub are risking a lot.”
    Schmidt was surprised to find that even blowing a BAC reading under .08 can result in a 24 hour driver’s license suspension. Any reading over .04, but under .08 can earn a suspension.
    “It was enlightening,” says Schmidt.
    Between December 1 and January 1 in Drumheller last year, six criminal cases were brought against individuals accused of operating a vehicle while impaired. Three were charged, all receiving 24 hour suspensions.
    Rural areas falling under the detachment’s jurisdiction had one criminal case investigated, with no charges, in the same time period last year.
    Drumheller Staff Sergeant Arthur Hopkins believes the existing laws regarding alcohol levels are too lenient.
    “I believe it should be drastically lowered (from .08),” Hopkins said.
    When officers are being trained to operate the intoxilyzer, each member takes turns being a drunk test subject for the others to practice on.
    The results from Hopkin’s practice test amazed him.
    “I was wasted, could not see straight, but only blew .05. Others haven’t been able to walk and only blew .11.”
    British Columbia lowered their BAC reading for penalizing from .08 to .05 in spring this year.
    “I don’t know why people can’t understand,” says Cpl. Black. “The message should be clear – it is not tolerated.”
    “It’s bigger than the law,” says Schmidt. “There’s so much more to it than just the legal consequences.”

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