THE North Vancouver RCMP arrested more impaired drivers than ever last year, according to a release from the detachment.
Officers pulled over 537 impaired drivers in 2012, including 202 who were criminally impaired, often by working unusual hours or using creative methods, according to Cpl. Richard De Jong, a spokesman for the detachment.
"The public may have a perception that we only work till midnight or till one or two," he said. "A lot of the impaired driving charges are picked up early in the morning where people are coming back from a party."
The detachment's six traffic officers were given the opportunity to work later hours in 2012, often yielding good results, according to De Jong.
"It takes 24 hours for the alcohol to dissipate out of your system so, you stop drinking at say two in the morning, you wake up at four or five and think you can drive home. Well, it takes more than a couple of hours sleep and a strong cup of coffee to sober a person up," he said. "It's not uncommon for our guys to be out there at five or six in the morning, still picking up impaired drivers."
The North Vancouver RCMP has also moved away from concentrating officers strictly at major thoroughfares.
"Not all enforcement is done at a roadblock. There are roving patrols that we have that target certain areas, choke points at certain highways . . . just to keep the public almost guessing as to when and where we may show up," De Jong said.
Drinking and driving rates plunged across Metro Vancouver during the holiday season. Police laid impaired driving charges against 961 drivers between Dec. 2, 2012, and Jan. 2, 2013, according to a release from the RCMP. During the same period beginning in 2011, charges were filed against 1,434 drivers.
The high arrest rate in North Vancouver may not belie an upswing in drinking and driving in the area, according to De Jong.
"It's not like there's more impaired drivers in North Van compared to the rest of the Lower Mainland or B.C., it's just that our officers have been . . . a little more creative working outside the perceived hours and also just being creative in their enforcement," he said.
Drivers with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 per cent can face criminal charges. Motorists with a blood-alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.08 per cent can have their driving privileges revoked for three days on a first offence and 30 days for a third offence. North Vancouver RCMP issued 335 driving prohibitions in 2012.
"We don't know the impact exactly as to removing all these impaired drivers off the road, but surely, everyone knows someone who's been impacted by an impaired driver," De Jong said.
West Vancouver, which has a smaller police force, took 216 drunk drivers off the road last year. Of those, 105 were handed suspensions of three to 30 days for blowing over .05 per cent, 79 were suspended for 90 days for blowing over .08 per cent at the roadside - and may be criminally prosecuted - and another 32 were charged with "criminal refusal" for failing to provide a breath sample at the station.