Trail drinkers nabbed
Highway patrols find open liquor in vehicles

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 09/00) - If you're going hunting along the Ingraham Trail or on the ice road and have brought a case of beer along for the ride, the police have some advice for you.

"Don't open it in the vehicle," said Const. Jason Doucet as he patrolled the highway Monday. "If you're bringing liquor, keep it in a closed case or a locked box until you camp."

Yellowknife RCMP have been extending their patrols along the trail and the winter road over the past few weeks. And in three separate occasions, officers have caught, and charged, people with open liquor in their cars or trucks.

"Our relief officer has been making extra patrols," said media relations officer Const. Denise Potvin. "People have been caught with open liquor and drinking."

Potvin said it is difficult to estimate the number of people charged with illegal possession of liquor on the trail as the numbers are included with all the Yellowknife liquor act charges.

Last month, 59 people were charged with liquor act infractions or were kept overnight in the detachment's drunk tank, according to Potvin.

However, Doucet said the numbers may not reflect reality on the trail.

"I'd say it's a dime a dozen (on the Ingraham Trail), but because of a lack of manpower, many get away with it," he said.

Doucet said people know the law, but choose to ignore it.

"They usually know it is wrong, and they try to play that they have a sober driver," he said. "Some people just get caught."

Anyone caught with open liquor is subject to a $230 fine. Plus, all liquor in the car or truck is poured out by the officer.

Darrell Foster, the Department of Transportation's highway patrol officer, said he has not come across any liquor violations while driving the trail.

"But I look for Motor Vehicle Act infractions," he said. "If I did find someone with open liquor, I'd call it into the police and they'd deal with it."

People can enjoy a drink once they're camped for the evening, Doucet said.

"In my experience, people think it's normal behaviour to have liquor in the car during a hunt on the ice road," he said. "We don't have a problem with people camping and having a drink, just not in the car."