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Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

New law permits Alberta Sheriffs to screen for impaired drivers

    Under Alberta’s new drinking and driving laws, Alberta Sheriffs will soon have equipment to make roadside demands of breath.
    The Alberta Legislature passed third reading of Bill 26 on Tuesday night. Under this legislation if a person is found to have a .05 to .08 blood alcohol level on their first offense they could receive a three-day driving prohibition and three-day vehicle seizure; the penalty escalates with repeat offenses. These changes are to provincial laws and are not criminal charges.
    The legislation also has more stringent penalties for those with a blood alcohol level over .08.
    “This legislation will be a further tool to police to get drunk drivers off the road,” said Jonathan Denis, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. “The tougher penalties target drunk drivers who repeatedly put us all at risk. Cracking down on high risk drivers is the right call for Alberta.”
    One of these tools will be in the hands of the Alberta traffic Sheriffs.
    “The Provincial Sheriffs will be able to further support the drunk driver laws by being able to give drivers suspensions, use screening devices,” said Dan Laville, communications director for the Solicitor General and Public Security. “They can carry the handheld screening device in their vehicle and they can pull over someone who appears to be impaired and check them. If they are between .05 and .08 they can administer the roadside suspension.”
    He says they are not able however to pursue criminal charges without involving a police officer.
    “If it is over .08 they can contact the RCMP or the police to come and deal with the criminal code infraction,” said Laville.  “Once it is over .08 it is a criminal code thing.”
    In Alberta, a Community Peace Officer Level 1, often a person hired by a county to enforce bylaws, can be approved to enforce moving violations under the Traffic Safety Act and elements of the Gaming and Liquor Act.
    Some can have enhanced authorities that could include Criminal Code Authority granted for the offenses of theft not exceeding $5,000 and mischief not exceeding $5,000. They could also be able to enforce criminal code warrants and investigate and submit reports involving non-injury motor vehicle collisions.
 According to Laville, a Community Peace Officer will not be granted the ability to make a lawful breath demand.
    “Only Sheriffs will be able to use a screening device,” said Laville.
    According to the policy and procedure manual for the Public Security Peace Officer, impaired driving offenses should not be actively sought by a peace officer.
     If a peace officer encounters an individual they suspect is impaired, they are to immediately contact the police service of jurisdiction and request assistance. The peace officer may have the authority to arrest the person pending the arrival of the police under the criminal code, but the peace officer may not have the authority to utilize emergency equipment to attempt to stop a vehicle to conduct an arrest.    
    If police are not able to attend, it is recommended a peace officer administer a 24-hour disqualification.
    Laville said it would be some time before Alberta Sheriffs will be equipped with the screening device.
    “The next step with the bill having been passed is developing the regulations to support it. An implementation plan is being developed,” said Laville.


Local man takes it all in look-alike contest

    Drumheller resident Justin Bolin has won a trip for two to Los Angeles for bearing an uncanny resemblance to Canadian comedian Russell Peters. The contest ended on Friday, December 2.
    Bolin entered the Calgary Sun Celebrity Look-alike contest and made it to the top 20 with another local, Nigel Tchir. Two cuts later, Bolin was still in contention against a Carrie Underwood look-alike and a Katie Perry look-alike.
    “The Carrie Underwood was very close and the Katie Perry was not too bad,” said Bolin.
    Through the efforts of his wife, Dawn, and the support of Drumheller, Bolin prevailed in the contest.
    “Definitely the support of the people in Drumheller and the fact that we’re a smaller community and we get behind our people is what pushed me to the top,” said Bolin.
    “I don’t know the count of the votes, but I was told I won single-handedly,” continued Bolin.
    Bolin is on his way to Los Angeles, staying in four-star accommodations in Hollywood. Bolin has also won a movie star home tour and $500 in spending cash.
    “It’ll be my first time down there,” said Bolin. “We may take in Disneyland and we’ll see about a couple different tours and make the most of it.”
    On top of winning the contest, Bolin may get a chance to meet his doppelganger.
     “Some of my co-workers have gotten in touch with Russell Peters management team,” said Bolin. “We’re waiting to hear back from them and possibly getting to meet Russell himself.”

RCMP focuses on impaired driving over Christmas season

    The Christmas season has arrived, and so has the season of Christmas parties and office get togethers.
    Unfortunately, this can also be a time when lives are torn apart by drinking and driving.  
    “The members of the Drumheller Detachment would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year. With that being said, we also want everybody to return to their homes safely,” said Staff Sergeant Art Hopkins.
 He said the police realize that at this time of year there are many parties and social gatherings taking place that involve the consumption of alcohol.  
    During the next few weeks, Drumheller Detachment will be implementing random checkstops in order to detect and deter persons from driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 
    As alcohol is not the only substance that causes impairment, Drumheller Detachment now has two members who are capable and qualified to determine impairment by other drugs.
     The consequences of driving under the influence are many. They can range from a driving prohibition to vehicle seizures.  That is not including what could happen if someone gets hurt as a result of your actions while under the influence. 
    The financial implications to you and your family are huge should you get caught driving or are involved in a collision where someone gets hurt.
     “Please don’t drink and drive.  If you are planning on drinking take the time to plan a ride home. The life you save may be your own.Remember your children are watching everything you do and modeling their behavior after you,” said Hopkins.
    According to a press release, impaired driving continues to be one of the leading preventable causes of death. Drivers who choose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol not only put themselves at risk, but also threaten the safety of everyone else on the road.
    RCMP Traffic Services will be out in full force to ensure safe roads with a special focus on combating impaired driving. Check stops are conducted year round and especially during the holiday season in December. 
    In Alberta, an average of 1 in 5, or 20%, of drivers involved in fatal collisions had been drinking prior to the collision. On average, 8100 people are convicted of impaired driving each year in this province alone.
     The effects of alcohol vary greatly and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can vary due to rate of consumption, rate of absorption, and rate of elimination. 
    The type of drink does not determine impairment, rather the amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time. A bottle of beer, a glass of wine and a shot of hard liquor all contain approximately the same amount of alcohol. The bottom line is…if you have consumed any alcohol at all, then why take the risk? Be responsible and plan ahead.
    There are many safe alternatives to getting behind the wheel after a night out.


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