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Do summer drivers drink more?

Amanda Vaughan
Northern News Services
Published Friday, August 17, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Drunk driving reports in Yellowknife have risen sharply in the last six weeks, and it's not an unusual summer phenomenon, according to Const. Roxanne Dreilich.

The rise could be a result of a few different factors, according to Dreilich.

"There are definitely more people in Yellowknife during the summer months," she said, pointing to the transient nature of our population.

However she also mentioned that it's not a phenomenon specific to Yellowknife.

"Summer is a more active time," said Dreilich. "There is lots of camping and various festivities that require people to travel from their residence to attend."

She also mentioned that most often it just comes down to planning ahead.

"If people took the time and energy to make a contingency plan before they head out to attend events, a lot of times impaired driving reports and offences could be avoided," said Dreilich.

She said it's also important to note that the crime map (which is featured in Yellowknifer every second Wednesday as 'Crime Watch'), is only a record of reported incidents, not necessarily charges. Some of the called-in reports end up being unfounded, or the subjects don't get located. However, Dreilich said the calls are still appreciated.

"A significant number of our impaired driver occurrences are opened from public reports," she said, adding that it's certainly helpful to have the public's assistance in the matter.

"We can't be everywhere," she said, also mentioning that calls from the public have definitely led to arrests for impaired driving in the past.

For those who do report drivers that they suspect are impaired, Dreilich had some tips.

"The most important information for us is the license plate number of the vehicle, and the direction it's travelling in," she said.

She also mentioned that it's good to get the number of occupants and a description of the vehicle, and of course, a description of the suspicious driving activities.

Dreilich also pointed out that sometimes motorists will try to follow a vehicle they believe is being operated by an impaired person, and she recommended that people who attempt that make sure they stay safe.

"We'd like them to keep a safe distance from the vehicle, and definitely do not approach the vehicle or the occupants," she said.

In March of this year, Yellowknifer reported that impaired driving charges in the territory year-round were down.

The RCMP suspected this was in relation to 2004 legislation reducing the legal blood alcohol limit for the territory, and introducing a zero tolerance policy for youth who drive impaired.