Celebrate responsibly this holiday season Edmonton has plenty of options to get home safely

The holidays herald parties, and that brings more instances of impaired driving. With this in mind, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is preparing for holiday checkstops, but police encourage drivers who choose to drink to find alternatives to get home.

“There’s no reasonable excuse for [driving impaired],” said Const. Brayden Lawrence.

Uber, cabs, and transit are readily available. Due to high demand during the holidays, it’s best to book designated drivers up to a few days in advance. Prices for designated drivers start at $20 plus $1.75 per kilometre with DDSOS, an Edmonton-based designated driver company.

Around the holidays, cabs and Uber may have longer wait times than normal. Prices for these services vary. For example, uberX charges a minimum $5 plus time and kilometres traveled, while taxi prices start at $3.60 plus $1.76 per kilometre traveled.

Despite alternatives to driving impaired, some people still choose to get behind the wheel. In 2015, Statistics Canada released a census regarding the rate of police-reported impaired driving incidents. Edmonton was the seventh worst city in Canada for impaired driving.

“Risk-taking increases with inebriation,” said Lawrence. “It becomes ‘ah, I think I can do this.’”

While police encourage drivers not to drink at all, 50 mg per 100 ml of blood alcohol level is the provincial limit for those with a Class 5 driver’s license. At that point, officers can apply provincial license sanctions, such as a three-day license suspension and a three-day vehicle seizure. A blood level of 80 mg per 100 ml is the criminal limit, which means drivers with blood levels of 80 mg per 100 ml and over can face criminal charges, vehicle seizure, and license suspension. Those with a Class 7 driver’s license (a learner’s licence) or a Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) cannot drink at all.

If you suspect someone is driving impaired, report that person. The City of Edmonton’s Curb the Danger program works alongside the community to get impaired drivers off the road. Call 911 to report a suspected impaired driver and the operator will pass that information to police, who will try to intercept the vehicle.

Look for drivers who have inconsistent road speed, ignore traffic signals, and have trouble  determining where their vehicle is on the road, resulting in swerving or driving too close to the curb.

Last year alone, 911 fielded 9,624 calls for suspected drunk driving, with 35 per cent of intercepted drivers ending up with an impaired driving charge or license suspension. In 2015, EPS officers arrested 1,573 drivers for impaired driving. There were 10 preventable fatalities that year.

Impaired driving charges tie up the courts too, with 40-45 per cent of time spent on that charge.

“During the court process, people are looking long term—what does your insurance think of that?” said Lawrence.

Penalties can include indefinite loss of license, large fines, and criminal conviction, including jail time.

Lawrence reminds drivers, “If you feel unsafe to get behind the wheel, you have options.”

For more information on designated driving services, visit the Alberta Motor Association’s website: http://ama.ab.ca/knowledge-base/articles/designated-driver

Featured Image: People have plenty of alternatives to driving impaired. | Pixabay

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