Impaired driving laws will be enforced in Port Clements: RCMP

  • Feb. 15, 2008 9:00 a.m.

RCMP will continue to enforce impaired driving laws in Port Clements, despite a request from the village council to show restraint, says Sgt. Jim Vardy. “Absolutely, categorically, we will not be showing restraint,” Sgt. Vardy said. “Our members have been down there (in Port) and have noticed an increase in drinking and driving.” Port council sent a letter to the RCMP detachment last week after hearing that some residents had recently received 24-hour driving suspensions and had their vehicles towed up to Masset. During the discussion of this issue, council members mentioned the fact that there is no taxi service in Port, that the towing fee to Masset is $200, and that it is somewhat inconvenient for Port residents to retrieve impounded vehicles from Masset, 40 kilometres away. Sgt. Vardy said that since an article about council’s decision appeared in the Observer, he has received several phone calls from Port residents. “People phoned me to say that it’s their pastime in Port Clements to go to the bar and have a couple of drinks and drive home,” he said. “I’m like, that’s fine, but walk.” Port residents may have noticed an increased police presence in their town, but this is simply because the detachment is now fully staffed, Sgt. Vardy said. Police officers are enforcing impaired driving and seatbelt laws in all areas of the detachment, which stretches from Old Massett to Port, he said. “We’re doing more traffic enforcement generally,” he said. “Port people aren’t being targetted.” Drinking and driving is a serious problem and is one of the leading causes of death in people under 35 years old, Sgt. Vardy said. Just because the islands are isolated and don’t have much traffic doesn’t mean we are immune to accidents, he pointed out. “The last fatality we had on the highway in 2006 was alcohol-related and it was in Port Clements,” he said. Alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to a driving suspension or impaired driving charge, Sgt. Vardy said. One driver stopped by police in Port Clements this month was smoking marijuana, he said. She received a 24-hour suspension. Sgt. Vardy and Const. Chad Chamberlain will be attending Monday night’s council meeting in Port, which starts at 7:30 pm.