During the month of July the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) will be focussing on impaired driving as part of our Strategic Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP). During the summer months, we tend to see an increase in the number of alcohol related driving offences. This was no exception in 2018, when the MHPS laid 30 impaired driving charges in July alone. That accounted for over twenty-one percent of our annual impaired driving arrests. Alcohol related collisions also tend to increase through the summer months with thirty-three percent of them in 2018 having occurred in July.
Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) has now been in effect for a little over six months and trends are beginning to show. While our year-to-date criminal impaired driving charges having remained rather consistent compared to recent years, we have seen a rather steep incline in the number of Immediate Roadside Sanctions (IRS) that have been issued to those motorists with a blood alcohol ranging between .05mg% and 0.1mg%. Year-to-date in 2019, the MHPS has issued twenty-six three-day IRS Suspensions to first time offenders, compared to ten last year. Two 15-day IRS suspensions have been issued to second time offenders so far this year. MHPS has also experienced an increase in the number of 30-day suspensions issued to GDL drivers under the Alberta Zero Alcohol Tolerance (AZAT) Program. All IRS and AZAT suspensions carry a 3 or 7-day vehicle seizure.
Another shocking statistic that we have experienced is the number of daytime impaired driving arrests that we have seen since the implementation of Mandatory Alcohol Screening. Since MAS began, 24 of our 68 impaired driving arrests have occurred between the hours of 7am and 7pm. That means that over 35% of those caught for impaired driving were operating during daytime hours when our roadways are at their busiest and the risk to the public is at the highest. Therefore, while our overall impaired numbers have remained consistent with pre-MAS numbers, we are finding that Mandatory Screening is allowing our officers to better detect those who have the ability to mask their impairment.
Throughout July, MHPS will be conducting proactive patrols for alcohol and drug related driving offences and the public should expect to see an increased presence of Check stop’s throughout the city. Our goal is to reduce the frequency of impaired driving and eliminate alcohol and drug related collisions in our community.
In an effort to increase awareness and improve understanding about the process of MAS, the MHPS will be providing opportunities citizens with the opportunity to try the Approved Screening Device during the month of July. Look for the MHPS booth at the Canada Day celebrations in Kin Coulee where officers will have the equipment available.
For more information, please contact:
Sgt. Clarke White
Medicine Hat Police Service