Police aim to curb drinking and driving

Oak Bay Police upgrades its roadside screening devices

Oak Bay Police Const. Mike Klein-Beekman with the new roadside screening devices they’ll use to take impaired drivers off the road this winter. It’s a task they take seriously all year long.

There’s a perception over the holidays that police officers more actively chase impaired drivers.

“They know we’re going to be out more, however, I’m nailing them all year long,” said Oak Bay Const. Mike Klein-Beekman. “I’ve been hunting them all year long.”

He can be credited with taking 23 impaired drivers off the road in Oak Bay this year so far.

“That’s just me alone,” he said. “Everybody else is out there looking for it. Certainly this time of year there is the mentality of looking harder for that situation. If it’s pouring rain, we’re still going to be out there doing roadblocks… or we might be doing mobile checks.”

The main crux of his message is “We will eventually get you.”

During the first vehicle stop of a Dec. 6 CounterAttack road check, Oak Bay Police seized a small amount of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. The next night they held another road check. One driver who insisted he hadn’t been drinking provided two breath samples that indicated a ‘warn’ and he was issued a three-day driving prohibition. In another incident a driver was issued a 90-day immediate roadside prohibition and the vehicle was impounded for 30 days for refusing to provide a sample.

“If you’re going to drink, don’t drive, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “People are still going to drink and drive regardless of what time of the year it is. We want to encourage people to have a good time, leave your car at home. It’s not worth losing your licence for 90 days or 30 days … or killing somebody.”

The Oak Bay Police are using new approved screening devices put in service this month to improve the technology, with officers refreshing their training on the roadside tools.

“They’re a newer device, newer technology. We’ve chosen to switch over to newer technology because it’s more fair to a driver out there who’s being tested, he’s got the newest, latest technology,” said Klein-Beekman. “We’re on shift 24-7 so we’re going to be stopping people.”

A former Integrated Road Safety Unit member and drug recognition expert, Klein-Beekman instructed local offers on the new devices. But they won’t only be used in search of impaired drivers. The push to stop distracted driving continues through the wild winter months.

“Distracted driving deaths and injuries are up now,” Klein-Beekman noted, “higher than drunk driving.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com