Don’t fear roadside checks

Does the fear of experiencing a road-side vehicle check hamstring your social life?

Does the fear of experiencing a road-side vehicle check hamstring your social life; not going out to dinner or visiting friends? Do you feel the law is too harsh or doesn’t go far enough as a deterrent?

Rural Crime Watch (RCW) asked the RCMP for to elaborate on the road-side check process.  How does law enforcement determine which driver, in a possible long line of stopped vehicles, will be checked?

A driver related her personal tale to RCW after having experienced a breathalyzer:

“I had just spent the evening with friends at a local restaurant and was heading home. It was only 8:30 p.m. but already dark. I had just made the turn onto my street when I came upon a vehicle stopped in front of me.

“As I slowed, my vehicle headlights picked out a police officer standing next to the stopped vehicle. It was a roadside check. Having only two glasses of wine over three hours with dinner and knowing my drinking limit, I wasn’t concerned. I actually recalled reading the RCW column from November 2010 on the subject. I rolled down my window as the officer approached. ‘Good evening ma’am, where have you been?” I told him and he replied, ‘Do you feel you are sufficiently in control to be driving?’ I answered in the affirmative and he said, ‘Would you be willing to submit to a road-side breathalyzer test?’ Assured that his question wasn’t really a request, I said, ‘Yes.’ What he said then surprised me, although it shouldn’t have, ‘If you are telling me the truth ma’am you will be on your way quickly.’

“I moved my vehicle to the side of the road, exited and took the test on the hood of the police car. I found the experience quite positive since I knew the results would be well below the legal limit, and they were. The officer thanked me for my co-operation and wished me a good evening.”

Wherever you stand on the issue, whether to know your limitations or to abstain when you know you will be driving is a personal issue. But as our contributor noted, the roadside experience was not one to be feared but to be embraced, to improve our highway safety and get the chronic impaired drivers treatment and off the streets.

Jonathan McCormick and Denny Fahrentholz are columnists with Rural Crime Watch.

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