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Penticton police report a quiet New Year’s Eve
New year’s revellers kept themselves in check on Monday evening, according to Penticton RCMP.
“It was pretty uneventful,” said Sgt. Rick Dellebuur. “It was a fairly routine night, we had calls for service but nothing unusual and it was expected for New Year’s Eve.”
Penticton RCMP had extra patrol cars on duty and were posted in the Apex area along with South Okanagan Traffic Services.
“I think everyone was paying attention to the message of not to drink and drive. We didn’t pick up any impaired drivers, in fact,” said Dellebuur of the Penticton RCMP patrols.
Dellebuur said most of the calls for service they responded to dealt with loud house parties and impaired people at licensed premises.
Cpl. Bryce Petersen of the South Okanagan Traffic Services said their night throughout the valley was fairly quiet as well. Petersen said the message to drivers was given early in December with drivers in the Lower Mainland and Okanagan making the news for getting caught driving impaired at road blocks. Over the course of an eight-hour shift in Penticton on Dec. 1, RCMP and traffic services took six impaired drivers off the road, made one drug seizure and stopped 11 people who were unlicensed drivers.
“I think that changed many people’s behaviour,” said Petersen.
Since roadside probation was introduced, Petersen said there has been a 40 per cent decrease in alcohol-related deaths. Where RCMP are still seeing a problem is drug-related deaths.
“You can still be impaired while driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. In the South Okanagan we have a number of different RCMP members that have been trained to the drug recognition expert status … it is backed up by a blood or urine test to confirm they are on a specific grouping of drug,” said Petersen. “There has been less than a half dozen that have gone to trial in B.C. so far, but there is now a push on this across the country.”
Petersen said quite often people are grateful to RCMP who pull them over in check stops and offer their thanks to the officers for keeping the roads safe. He said statistics show that RCMP are doing just that. In an ongoing project on the Hope-Princeton highway involving all the stakeholders including Ministry of Transportation, ICBC and RCMP — 24 months have gone by without any fatalities on that stretch of road.
“It was at one time the highest fatality highway next to the Sea to Sky in the province, now we are two-plus years of no fatals,” said Petersen, adding that it is not only RCMP enforcement but a collaborative effort improving signage and other things.
Now that the holiday check stop season is over, Petersen said drivers shouldn’t expect to see less RCMP patrolling the roads for impaired drivers.
“People let down their guard and we don’t. It is just the beginning of a new year and the clock starts over so we are on the road again. Look for us in the day, night and we will be out there,” said Petersen.