Winnipeg police launch annual holiday check stop program
Officers typically stop more than 1,000 vehicles a week until the end of December
Winnipeg police are reminding people to think twice about drinking and driving this holiday season, with the launch of the 2013 check stop program on Monday.
The campaign runs through the month of December and will have more officers on roadways as well as check stops set up near bars, restaurants, Christmas parties and socials.
During last year's campaign, police charged 42 people with impaired driving or having a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.
In 2011, 57 people were charged, and 98 were charged in 2010.
But while the numbers appear to be on the decline, police say there is still cause for concern.
"What was frustrating for me to see last year was not only were we catching people driving impaired, but most of them were near double the limit," Const. Stephane Fontaine said Monday.
Police reminded the public to have a plan in place for how they will get home before they start drinking, adding that Operation Red Nose is now fully operational.
The operation gives people a ride home in their own vehicles in exchange for a donation.
Operation Red Nose organizers in Winnipeg say many people took advantage of the service this past weekend.
"Friday we took 58 people home, and their guests and their car, and we had 55 on Saturday night," said co-ordinator Sharra Hinton.
Winnipeggers can call the Operation Red Nose hotline at 204-947-NOSE (6673) to arrange for a designated driver to pick them up.
Drunk driver speaks out
Meanwhile, a Winnipeg man whose drunk driving killed his friend seven years ago is urging others not to make his mistake.
Brent Thibert was well above the legal blood alcohol limit when he was driving with friends in British Columbia in June 2006.
Thibert said his best friend flew through the windshield in the crash and died a couple days later.
"It was heart-breaking. I mean, I never really wanted that," he said Monday.
"I never wanted to hurt anybody. It was just a silly risk that I took that night."
Thibert served a two-year conditional sentence and two years of probation, but he said he should have gone to jail. Judges these days hand down stiffer sentences to impaired drivers, he added.
Thibert's driver's licence has been suspended, but he is eligible to get it back next year.
Thibert said anyone who drinks alcohol has a choice of whether to drive or not, and he hopes others will learn from his experience.
"We all have choices. I had a multitude of choices that night," he said.
"My mother would have rather had a three-o'clock-in-the-morning phone call that night than me calling her the next day at the RCMP station telling her that I'd been in a collision."