Calgary police still holding holiday Checkstops despite COVID-19

Though current COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta prevent people from hosting holiday gatherings, Calgary police say they’ll still be holding Checkstops this month to rid the roads of drunk drivers.

In a Thursday news release, the Calgary Police Service acknowledged the Checkstop program will look different this year because of the pandemic, but said it will still go ahead.

“We will continue to conduct Checkstops throughout the holiday season, as we do each year,” Const. Dan Kurz said. “The Checkstop program is an important visual reminder that impaired driving is not OK under any circumstances.”

Read more: Alberta’s new COVID-19 measures ban in-person dining, outdoor gatherings; retail to remain open

This year, officers conducting the stops will be wearing PPE to maintain their safety and the safety of the public.

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According to police, impaired driving continues to be a major contributing factor in collisions throughout Alberta.

“Over a 10-year period from 2008 to 2017, 574 people died in a collision involving a legally impaired driver and nearly 8,000 were injured,” the CPS said. “This year, there have been five fatal collisions in Calgary involving alcohol or drugs.”

Read more: Alberta’s new, tougher impaired driving laws are in effect — here’s what you need to know

On Dec. 1, new, tougher impaired driving laws took effect in Alberta.

Under the new impaired driving laws outlined in Bill 21, the Provincial Administrative Penalties Act, significant penalties will be handed out at the roadside, including fines up to $2,000.

Repeat offenders will now face a mandatory education program and mandatory ignition interlock.

In addition, new zero-tolerance consequences for novice drivers and commercial drivers were introduced.

While most first-time offenders won’t necessarily face a criminal charge, their cases would instead be handled outside of court through SafeRoads Alberta — a new adjudication branch that will allow drivers to pay their fees online, request more time to pay their penalty or dispute their vehicle seizure.

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