Working as a team, two Penticton RCMP officers last year investigated 188 impaired drivers – and that’s probably just scratching the surface of the problem, says one of the Mounties.
Const. Brad Caruso noted the 188 drivers investigated by him and his partner didn’t include impaired motorists nabbed at road blocks or by general duty members.
“So what are the true, true numbers that came out of Penticton? A lot higher than that,” said Caruso, who wouldn’t hazard a guess of the actual number of impaired drivers on the roads.
The 188 motorists seen by the duo, who are members of the Penticton RCMP Community Safety Enforcement Team, all saw their licences suspended anywhere from 24 hours to 90 days. Half of them received the maximum 90-day suspension or were charged criminally.
In addition, the two officers also charged 53 people for driving without a valid licence.
Caruso and his partner have hot spots where they’ll sit and wait, he explained, plus check out tips that come in from concerned citizens.
The typical impaired driver, he said, is usually between 40 and 60 years of age, and quick to offers excuses like: “My life is chaos and I just need to unwind,” or, “I had a couple after work.”
“It starts off with denial, (with) ‘I haven’t had any,’” added Caruso.
But there are times, he continued, when he’ll receive a handshake and thank you – even after he’s impounded a person’s car or suspended a licence.
“A lot of these guys, they’re first timers and you never see them a second time,” said Caruso.
“But there are people in town we’ve caught a couple of times. They’re just not getting the message.”