LETHBRIDGE - Anyone who chooses to drink and drive in Lethbridge this holiday season will still see some Christmas lights, but they'll be red and blue and only visible in their rear view mirror.
The Lethbridge Police Service's annual Christmas Check Stop campaign gets underway this weekend, and will continue throughout December and into the New Year as part of a targeted effort to get impaired drivers off the road.
Police say that the primary goal of the Check Stop program is to track down, and arrest impaired drivers because of the significant risk to they pose to public safety.
Additionally, police will also be checking for valid documentation including driver's licenses, vehicle registration and insurance as well as equipment, liquor and other violations.
LPS will carry out the campaign through a combination of traditional, static, and on-road Check Stops that will be set up at various locations. Officers will also be conducting targeted, mobile enforcement.
Strategic Communications Manager Kristen Harding says after all these years, it should go without saying that if you plan to drink, don't drive.
"And yet we still continue to apprehend impaired drivers," she continued. "There's absolutely no excuse to get behind the wheel when your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs, and there will be zero tolerance for anyone who chooses to do so."
Harding added that impairment begins with the first drink and, consuming any type of alcohol affects your judgement, reaction time and perception.
"We're not asking people to abstain, all we're asking is if you drink, plan ahead and make sure you have a safe ride home. Don't make what could be a fatal error in judgement," Harding said.
Police want to remind drivers administrative penalties begin for drivers caught with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of over .05.
At .05 drivers will face an immediate three-day license suspension and three-day vehicle seizure on a first offence.
Individuals with a Graduated Driver's License who are found with any blood alcohol face an immediate 30-day license suspension and seven-day vehicle seizure.
All drivers charged with impaired driving will have their license suspended until the charge is resolved in court, and their vehicle will be seized - three days on a first offence and seven days for subsequent offences.
Upon conviction drivers will also require a mandatory ignition interlock for one year on the first conviction, three years for the second conviction and five years for the third conviction.
If you see a driver that you think is impaired, police encourage you to call 911 immediately as long as it is safe and lawful to do so.
It's the holidays, so if you're planning on having a drink it's important to make arrangements for a safe ride home.
LPS offered a few suggestions, including designating a sober driver, calling a taxi or Uber, using public transportation or contacting a drive-home service like Operation Red Nose.
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