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RCMP concerned for public safety after catching multiple impaired drivers
Nine impaired drivers were taken off the road on Sunday, June 22, following a bush rave party held up at Coal Creek. The Summer Solstice Party, advertised through social media, was organized and attended primarily by Elk Valley residents, with people from Cranbrook, Kimberley and southern Alberta also in attendance.
The party got started at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 21 and carried on until 9 a.m. the next morning. Elk Valley RCMP responded to a report of an intoxicated male causing a disturbance at the rave just before 8 a.m., and located the suspect leaving in a vehicle on Coal Creek Road. The driver tried to avoid the police, but the RCMP were able to stop his vehicle and conduct a roadside screening test. After failing the test, the driver was issued a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP), as well as a 30-day vehicle impound.
This prompted RCMP to immediately set up a roadblock on Coal Creek Road. Officers spent the next six hours stopping vehicles leaving the party, and ended up issuing three 90-day IRPs, three three-day IRP's, two 24-hour driving prohibitions and one 12-hour driving prohibition.
“What's shocking to me is the number of people we actually caught that night,” commented Sgt. Will Thien with the Elk Valley RCMP. “We're in the 21st century, and there's a lot of awareness out there with regards to impaired driving. Let's face it, there's no shortage of stories that we can learn from. And yet, we have people who still try to drive home from a celebration, especially in a small town like this.”
Despite organizers of the Summer Solstice Party requesting through social media that people “don't drink and drive” and to “party safe everyone”, evidently, some drivers chose not to listen. Eight vehicles in total, including a school bus, were impounded.
That Sunday saw many families, children and mountain bikers out enjoying the area as partiers left the site. The route taken by the majority of drivers also included going past a busy spray park outside of the Fernie Aquatic Centre.
“The alarmingly high number of impaired drivers leaving one specific event in Fernie is unprecedented and constituted a public safety risk to the residents of the Elk Valley,” stated Thien.
Elk Valley RCMP are now reminding residents that police are actively looking for impaired drivers, the penalties are severe and impaired drivers will be caught.
“Be responsible,” remarked Thien. “If you're going to go out and drink, make sure you have someone who is sober to take you home.”
“Your safety is not the only one in danger,” he added. “There might be someone else on the road going home from work who could get injured because of your actions.”