Drinking and driving statistics indicate a problem 

Three more arrests in Whistler

If it seems like there are more reports of impaired drivers on Whistler's roads, that's because there is.

According to the Whistler RCMP there have been 50 impaired driving arrests in the first half of 2010, up 50 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Although direct comparisons are impossible and the higher number of arrests can sometimes indicate more enforcement, drinking and driving statistics are up across the province and were cited recently in the provincial government's decision to toughen up laws and increase fines for impaired driving, starting in September.

Across the province it was reported that there were 5,590 convictions for impaired driving in B.C. in 2009, up from 4,880 in 2008. That's an increase of 15 per cent. Additionally, 24-hour driving prohibitions, which are handed down to drivers under .08, are also up - 41,300 in 2009 compared to 28,600 the previous year.

The new law will lower the threshold for fines and driving prohibitions to .05 per cent blood alcohol content from .08 per cent, or 50 milligrams per litre of blood from 80 mg.

As well, the new law would increase fines substantially, to the point where an impaired conviction over .08 could result in more than $4,000 in fees as well as the loss of a driver's licence for a minimum of three months and up to a year for a first offence.

But despite the increased number of arrests and the province's response, impaired driving is a regular occurrence in town. There were three impaired driving cases this week alone, including one where the driver was more than three times above the legal limit.

The first incident was on Thursday at 3:40 p.m. The RCMP received a report of a driver who was possibly impaired. They stopped a 52-year-old Vancouver man at Highway 99 and Whistler Cay. He was incoherent and was brought to the detachment, where he provided samples of .260 and .250.

The second arrest was made Sunday at 1:30 a.m. The police were conducting a roadblock on Blackcomb Way and stopped a 19-year-old resident of Pemberton. He was taken to the detachment and provided two samples of .130.

On Monday at 11:30 p.m. the police stopped a driver at a roadblock in White Gold, who failed the roadside screening device. A 29-year-old man from Whistler then provided two samples of .120.

The RCMP also handed down several 24-hour suspensions over the weekend.

According to Corporal Joe Leeson, the RCMP are encouraged by the number of calls they are receiving regarding suspected impaired drivers.

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