Calgary

Alberta police launch Christmas season checkstop campaign

Police officers from across Alberta are once again teaming up to help keep the roads safe this holiday season.

Police urge alternate transportation plans to keep drivers off roads after drinking

Alberta laws that allow immediate and mandatory suspension for anyone charged with impaired driving have been struck down. (CBC)

Police officers from across Alberta are once again teaming up to help keep the roads safe this holiday season.

Throughout the month of December until New Year's Day, joint force checkstops will be set up around Alberta in an effort to combat impaired driving. Police want to catch as many impaired drivers as possible but also want to prevent people from drinking and driving in the first place.

"Impaired driving accidents are 100 per cent preventable," said Justice Minister Jonathan Denis. "I encourage people to get out and have a good time, all I ask is that you please plan ahead and think of the safety of yourself and others this holiday season.

"Realistically, one fatality due to drunk driving is too many," said Denis.

According to a statement from police, 471 people were killed  between 2008 and 2013 in alcohol-related collisions. Another 7397 people were injured..

Darren Keeler's son Colton was killed by a drunk driver in 2012. 

"I don't like talking about statistics because my son is not a statistic. He was real, he was alive and I miss him every day," he said.

Tougher laws save lives

Keeler is a member of MADD Canada and Families for Justice and says he wants to see tougher penalties for drunk driving.

"As part of a group I'm in, Families for Justice, we have 70,000 names on a petition calling for mandatory minimums on impaired driving causing death of at least five years," said Keeler.

The province of Alberta toughened its impaired driving laws in 2012 and results were immediate: the number of fatalities decreased by nearly 50 per cent during the second half of that year. 

Denis said mandatory minimum sentences are being discussed with his federal counterpart and is an issue that has support from other provinces.

For this holiday season, Airdrie Integrated Traffic Unit Cpl. Darrin Turnbull said their strategy to catch impaired drivers is changing.

"We'll also be very strategic as to the location, the time of day and how we set up, whether we're going to be more covert in our situation, whether we're doing roving checkstops and stop every car we can see on the highway," he said.

Police are also encouraging the public to report impaired drivers by calling 911 from a hands-free device to help keep the roads safe.

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