Four members of the Cochrane RCMP traffic unit were part of check stops held in the Calgary area during National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day on Dec. 3.

Sgt. Darrin Turnbull, of the Alberta RCMP traffic unit, says 77 impaired drivers were removed from Alberta roadways during the traffic safety enforcement initiatives. That includes check stops west and south in the Calgary area.

Impaired drivers remain a major issue on Alberta roadways, despite the educational efforts by the RCMP and others.

"It's interesting," says Sgt. Turnbull. "The more officers that you have out, and the more vehicles that you check, sadly the more impaired drivers you find. We'd love to do one of these projects someday and have 40 officers out checking vehicles and come back at the end of the day with none."

"To me," he continues, "that would mean the motorists are getting the message and they're finding alternative means of transportation to get home from these holiday events, but unfortunately on Saturday, Alberta RCMP alone removed 77 impaired drivers from Alberta roadways."

Checks take place any time of the day and are almost a routine part of any traffic stop. The results can be alarming.

Turnbull points to a recent incident where a driver of an 18-wheeler with a 53-foot trailer pulled out in front of an RCMP officer at 10:55 a.m.

"He had to slow down to avoid the collision. Then with mandatory alcohol screening, sure enough, there was alcohol present, so that semi-truck was impounded and the driver was suspended from driving."

Sgt. Turnbull has been with the force for over 25 years and has seen impaired driving laws and enforcement tools change over the years. He calls mandatory alcohol screening a game changer.

"I myself have had a school teacher at 8 o'clock in the morning, on her way to work to teach at a school in southern Alberta providing a breath sample and blowing over the legal limit and had no signs or symptoms of impaired. I would not have caught that driver without mandatory alcohol screening."

Of the impaired motorists on Dec. 3, 44 drivers were over the legal limit or refused to provide breath samples and received Immediate roadside sanctions (IRS). Fifteen drivers provided breath samples that were in range to were issued IRS-warn. Sixteen graduated driver's license (GDL) drivers provided breath samples that had alcohol in their system, contrary to the zero tolerance law, and were issued IRS - novice. As well, two drivers received 24-hour suspensions due to drug impairment or fatigue.

"We are planning more check stops and more of these multi-agency check stop joint force operations with our enforcement partners around the City of Calgary," says Turnbull.

That includes the Cochrane area.