Driving home? Go easy on the ‘nog — RCMP

When planning on attending Christmas parties this year, make sure you find a safe way home.

When planning on attending Christmas parties this year, make sure you find a safe way home.

“The holidays are a time when people let their guard down a bit, and go out and enjoy themselves,” Columbia Valley RCMP Staff Sergeant Marco Shehovac said. “The message here is remind people to find another way home.”

This message is part of the CounterAttack campaign running across British Columbia this holiday season. While CounterAttack is a year-round program, the frequency of roadside checks and officers watching for impaired drivers is likely to increase thanks to the abundance of Christmas parties this time of year.

“We’re going to be doing more road checks, and with the new rules you will be immediately brought into the station for a breathalyser,” Shehovac said. “Officers will be out in the public, watching the bars and doing more stationary road checks.”

B.C. has seen a 40 per cent decrease over the last year in drunk-driving related deaths according to the Public Safety Ministry, likely due to the new laws brought in last fall.

Since September of 2010, under the Motor Vehicle Act police are able to issue an immediate roadside prohibition for those caught with a blood alcohol content of .05 or higher.

The provincial government says preliminary data shows 68 people have died in alcohol-related vehicle crashes between October 1, 2010, and September 30 of this year, compared to 113 deaths on average in each of the last five years.

“Celebrating with family and friends is an important part of the holidays,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in a release.

“Getting home safely should be part of everyone’s holiday planning. We know that B.C.’s tougher impaired driving laws are working — 45 fewer people have lost their lives since the legislation was introduced last year. We are making great progress and we are committed to building on that success.”

Shehovac believes drivers are getting the message, as he hasn’t seen too many cases of impaired driving over the last few weeks.

“We want to keep people safe,” he said. “My message to the public is that people do seem wary, and do take precautions, and that’s good to see.”