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Impaired driving charges dropped during pandemic

Between Jan. 1 and Mar. 31 of 2021 the RCMP laid 29 impaired operation charges compared to 43 during the same three months of 2020, marking a decrease of 33 per cent.
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According to Mothers Against drunk Driving Alberta, on average, up to four Canadians are killed every day in alcohol- or drug-related crashes. FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

Charges laid for impaired driving offences dropped by 33 per cent in the first three months of 2021 compared to the first three months of 2020.

The St. Albert RCMP released their quarterly report highlighting the use of resources in the local police force showing a drop in impaired driving for the quarter.

Between Jan. 1 and Mar. 31 of 2021 the RCMP laid 29 impaired operation charges compared to 43 during the same three months of 2020, marking a decrease of 33 per cent.

Throughout the pandemic, impaired-operation-related offence charges have been lower than the year before the pandemic started.

Overall there were 142 charges laid relating to impaired driving in the 2020-2021 year, compared to 193 in 2019-2020, representing a drop of 26 per cent. 

Between April 1 to June 31 of 2020, the RCMP clocked 36 impaired-operation-related offences, compared to 41 in during the same three months of 2019. The second quarter, stretching from July 1 to Sept. 30, saw impaired operation offences sit at 33 in 2020 compared to 43 in the same three months the previous year. In the third quarter, offences dropped by one third, with 44 impaired-operation-related offences laid between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2020, compared to 66 laid in those same months of 2019.

Impaired operation by drug offences also dropped, with a decrease of 39 per cent, with the fourth quarter from 14 offences between Jan 1 and Mar. 31 of 2021 compared to 23 in those same three months in 2020.

Impaired operation by drug offences dropped as the pandemic went on, with the first quarter, from April 1 to June 30 hitting 16 offences, compared to only eight the year before. But by the second quarter of this year, offences dropped to 10, compared to 14 the previous year. By the third quarter, the RCMP laid 11 offences between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2020, compared to 19 the previous year.

The RCMP said their traffic-safety initiatives were impacted through the year by the COVID-19 restrictions. 

"The St. Albert RCMP’s proactive traffic safety efforts were once again impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic response during Q4. Mandatory Alcohol Screening demands were not completed due to the pandemic, and checkstops were suspended in mid-December after stricter COVID-19 restrictions were reinstated," the report said. 

"Nevertheless, the enhanced Safe Roads Project continued throughout Q4, which include proactive patrols to detect and deter impaired driving as well as joint speed enforcement operations. These operations averaged 15 violation notices per shift with numerous vehicle stops."

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Alberta, crashes involving alcohol or drugs are a leading criminal cause of death in Canada. Every day, on average, up to four Canadians are killed and many more are injured in alcohol- or drug-related motor vehicle crashes on public roads involving at least one vehicle. 

In 2014, road crashes claimed an estimated 2,297 lives. Based on testing of fatally-injured drivers, it may be estimated that 1,273,  or 55 per cent, of these deaths resulted from crashes in which an individual was positive for alcohol or drugs. 

Some 299 deaths, or 13 per cent, occurred in crashes involving individuals who were positive for alcohol alone.

Some 618 deaths, or 26.9 per cent, occurred in crashes involving individuals who were positive for drugs alone.

Some 356 deaths, or 15.5 per cent, occurred in crashes involving individuals who were positive for both alcohol and drugs.


Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Newspapers based in St. Albert, Alta.
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