Drugs, not alcohol, the problem with drivers in Whistler 

The police campaign against drinking and driving is working but the message not to drive under the influence of drugs is not getting through, according to Whistler RCMP officers.

Since being transferred to Whistler in March, Sergeant Wayne Mossman has noticed a marked difference in the reason Whistler drivers receive 24 hour license suspensions compared to other centres. He says drugs such as marijuana or cocaine tend to be the factor in borderline impaired driving cases here, rather than alcohol.

"The anti drink-driving advertisements by ICBC appear to be hitting home and people don’t view being drunk as socially acceptable anymore – whether in a car or not," Mossman said.

However, he says it could be time to put the same message out about drugs.

"The obvious signs of someone under the influence of drugs, especially marijuana, is the smell, slurred speech and glazed eyes, which is reasonably consistent with alcohol," he said. "But there is no campaign saying don’t smoke dope and drive."

Mossman says another factor contributing to the relatively low rate of drunk driving in Whistler is the abundance of taxis. "Because of the education programs around Christmas time most drivers are terrified of getting pulled over and will take a cab," he explained. "Also, employers are taking the message onboard and arranging taxis home for staff at work functions."

He says there is a huge onus on hosts to be responsible for guests, especially in the wake of several court cases where hosts were successfully sued for the actions or accidents of drunk guests.

The Whistler RCMP warn they will be operating with a full staff this festive season, including extra officers from Pemberton and Squamish. Police say problems such as domestic violence tend to worsen at Christmas because of the pressures on families and money.

Mossman says traffic checkpoints will be out in force during the festive period but exactly where they will be and when won’t be advertised.

New drivers are not allowed to consume any alcohol prior to driving. The maximum legal limit for fully licensed motorists is .08 per cent alcohol detectable in the blood.


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