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Drunk drivers in Kelowna can expect the unexpected from police

Monday, March 8th, 2010 | 5:00 am

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By John McDonald

At six-feet, seven-inches tall, dressed in a glowing yellow safety vest, Kelowna RCMP Const. Chad Lucash is hard to miss. Yet most of the drunk driver he arrests – his specialty – never seem to see him coming.

That’s because Lucash usually works far from the traditional night-time roadside checkstop that most motorists associate with drunk driving. Instead, Lucash takes the struggle against impaired driving to the source – bars and liquor stores.

It’s not unusual for Lucash to take down a drunk driver at 9:30 a.m. in broad daylight, usually right after they’ve pulled out of a liquor store parking lot, at a time when most other people have just finished their breakfast.

It’s not surprising then, that many of the drivers he will pick off at that early hour are the hard core alcoholics, often there to stock up after drinking most of the night.

Those incorrigible drunk drivers are part of the reason the rate of impaired driving conviction statistics, which had been dropping in the face of education programs and social disapproval, have started climbing again.

In Kelowna, the number of impaired driving charges has more than doubled in the last two years to 400 from 180, the direct result of efforts by Lucash and some of the rookie traffic section officers he has helped train. But the success is not just on the road, it’s in the courtroom as well. Lucash personally has more than 200 impaired driving convictions under his belt. He and other Kelowna RCMP officers are using good police work and being careful not to give defense lawyers something they can use to pull the cases apart.

That means everything from careful note-taking and attention to detail during the actual investigation and arrest, as well as being well-prepared when it comes time to testify in court.

“It’s no mystery,” Lucash says. “When you look at how prevalent impaired driving is, you have to make sure the members are well-educated on all aspects of it. Our job is to hand over to the Crown a package of evidence they can use to win cases.”

For Lucash, that also means becoming just as familiar with impaired driving case law. As one of the most common criminal code offenses, there’s mountains of it being created by defense lawyers who are trying to use it to get their clients off the hook.

“I tell my rookies that even if they lose a case, it all makes them a better cop at the end of the day,” he says. “It can be tough on them. You’re basically the only witness up against a defense lawyer who’s probably better educated than you, may be making ten grand and whose sole purpose is to make you look bad. He’s well versed in the nuances of the court system and his job is to make you look bad.”

Lucash says the tax-paying public deserves their efforts.

“They pay our salaries,” he says. “They have a right to expect we will do the very best job we can to take drunk drivers off the road.”

While some criticize the bees-to-honey approach of sitting outside liquor stores waiting for drunk drivers, Lucash counters that the right to check for sobriety of drivers has been enshrined in case law by the Supreme Court of Canada.

He has some sympathy for the very drivers he targets.

“I can say with confidence that 75 per cent of the vehicles that pull up to the liquor store at that time of the morning, if I run their license plates, they will have some alcohol-related incident on their records,” Lucash said. “They’re alcoholics, most of them, and they really do need help. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean they have the right to endanger others by their behaviour.”

And drunk drivers in Kelowna can expect more of the targeted enforcement from Const. Lucash and his colleagues.

“What we’re doing is moving away from classic roadside check stop where they light it up like a Christmas tree,” he said. “The public has the expectation police are doing everything in their power to assist in prosecuting drunk drivers.”

john@kelowna.com

250-575-0521

Drunk drivers in Kelowna can expect the unexpected from police5.053

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9 Responses to “Drunk drivers in Kelowna can expect the unexpected from police”

  1. grumpydigger says:
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    I tell my rookies that even if they lose a case, it all makes them a better cop at the end of the day,…………………..as much as I would like to see more impaired drivers off the road..this quote sounds a little like harassment………………

    Pull Alot people over and try to charge them with impaired.if a few innocent people managed to beat the charge don’t feel bad ….it doesn’t matter that you could be ruining someone’s life unnecessarily……….

  2. Mark says:
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    To “Grumpydigger”:

    You must be drunk. Or just a moron. You seem to be having a difficult time with a simple complex.

    Reading the article, ALL PEOPLE WHO HE CHARGES ARE DRUNK, some just hire big defense lawyers who get them off the hook. “Ruining someone’s life unnecessarily”, are you kidding me? They’re DRUNK DRIVING!

    Harassment? Give your head a shake. Let him pull over everyone! If you’re drunk then suffer the consequences! Have you ever lost a friend to a drunk driver?

    Get it together.

    Mark

  3. grumpydigger says:
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    Harassment? Give your head a shake. Let him pull over everyone!……………so I taken from that comment you believe police should be able to pull over people day and night without cause and conduct breath tests and makeshift searches………

    The RCMP have a very low rate of convictions of impaired drivers because they screw up quite often in their procedures…………

    Call me a moron if you want…….but I don’t like big brother having the ability to conduct random road stops that end up being nothing more than searches……. because scared people think they’re being better protected……..

  4. Richard says:
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    Dear Grumpy

    Last Friday night, I left the gym at 10:30pm. I was in no hurry whatsoever, in fact, I stopped to talk to the night janitor for half an hour. At eleven, I left, and drove down Lawrence to make a RIGHT hand turn onto Gordon. I was driving CONSERVATIVELY. I drive conservatively, which is why I haven’t had a ticket in YEARS. That area of Lawrence, is quiet, dark, and full of houses and appartments. At the intersection I signalled, “stopped”, crept out to see around the hedge, and turned into the immediate right hand lane. A cop then pulled up behind me at the next intersection. As soon as the light turned green, he pulled me over!

    I had NO idea why…I thought…”maybe they’re looking for a car like mine??” He then announced that I had “run” through the stop sign! I was in shock, I thought “I stopped?”…”nope! you came right up and went through. Have you been drinking?”. “no”. (I don’t drink at ALL, I have NEVER been drunk in my life, I have consumed perhaps 4 glasses of alcohol in my entire life, never more than half a glass at a sitting. I can’t stand the stuff)

    As I sat in my car, I reviewed the situation, I realized there is NO way, I “ran” that intersection in any meaningful way. Why would I make a right hand turn onto busy Gordon without due dilligence? I was going SLOW in general. True, I had to creep out to see around the hedge, and it’s POSSIBLE (though I don’t trust his word at this point) that instead of a dead stop, I went down to say 1/2 km an hour, to peak around the corner. I certainly was at the corner for more than a few seconds, while I checked for oncoming traffic. I’m well aware that a drunk driver COULD be speeding wildly down 2 lane Gordon! If indeed, I didn’t come to a dead stop, (and let me reiterate, I would not have been moving with any meaningful velocity), then I suppose I am guilty by the letter of the law, but surely, this is NOT what was meant in the spirit of the law!

    At this point, I assumed, that perhaps, this was really about drunk driving, and that the stop sign was an excuse to do a check, but after several minutes, the cop returned, and handed me a ticked for 167 dollars. Comparable to the fine one for excessive speeding if I’m not mistaken, understandable if dealing with a person who blew through a stop sign endangering people. I endangered NOBODY. I am confident that if 10 random citizens were watching the same intersection, that none would say I was driving without due care, or that I “ran” the stop sign.

    I returned to the intersection, there were 2 police cars sitting in the empty lot. They left 10 min. later. I suppose they realized this was far from a hotspot. I am sure they wanted one last catch before leaving. I proceded to stay for an extra 15 min. ( I made a video), 4 more cars arrived in that 15 min.

    I was told later, that tickets were being handed out up and down the highway from the airport to westbank. First day of Spring break for the high schoolers….I drive a car which is popular for young people…but I’m MIDDLE AGED. I am at the BOTTOM of ICBC’s safe driving scale.

    Scariest of all, if one wanted to apply judgment like this, anybody could receive at ticket despite their intentions to drive lawfully. Did you stop over the line at the intersection? Were you a full 4 slow counts behind that driver in front you, or only 3 and a half? (tailgating is another pet peeve of mine!), I ALWAYS signal a lane change (but how many do not?), Parked too far away from the curb? Did you signal a full 100 yards in advance? Always? Now many of these annoy me, however, I would never advocate handing out a 167$ ticket for a driver doing such things at 11pm, on an EMPTY street with nobody around, when it is OBVIOUS that they are not driving recklessly, and are, by all practical measures, following the law.

  5. Mark says:
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    To “Richard”:

    Please summarize your rant. It is much too long and annoying.

    Mark

  6. Richard says:
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    Mark:

    I realize that reading speed/comprehension can vary wildly. I would expect that the vast majority of people could read that post in about 3 min, but I appreciate your difficulties. However, I prefer to keep the level of detail found in the original post. I prefer thorough disclosure as opposed to superficial accounts, which are really not sufficient for in-depth consideration. In addition, a detailed account answers possible questions that people may have in advance.

    So, request denied. I shall be content having the post only read by those who do not find it too long or too difficult to read.

  7. Glenda says:
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    Cst. Lucash…I applaud your efforts and the efforts of your associates in removing impaired drivers from the public highways. I am more concerned about members of my family or myself from being injured or killed by an impaired driver. If that means that I will be stopped periodically at road checks, so be it…again carry on the good work…

  8. Fred says:
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    Many years ago I had a brother, killed by a drunk driver,
    about six or seven years ago my grandson was struck and
    seriously injured by a drunk driver at the edge of a playground in Calgary. Still I don’t think the police should be allowed to pull people over without a reason.
    I agree they should go after drunk drivers, but today they
    are targeting people who may or may not be drunk, we still
    have legal rights under the constitution of the country and
    we should not see them diminished under any circumstances.
    In my view, more and more some police officers are out of
    control, they do stop people for no reason, they do abuse
    their powers not only with traffic offences, but with tasers and other random acts of stupidity. Example, well
    the old guy on Leon, he had a permit to park where he was,
    police didn’t listen to him they not only hit him they tasered him. The problem I have with some people is, they
    defend the police no matter what, and in so doing, they allow shame and suspicion to tar and feather all the other
    cops who go to work every day to protect and serve.
    The old saying is true, if we trade freedom for security
    we end up with neither. I do hope the police take drunks
    off the road, I just want them to respect peoples rights and the intent of the law.

  9. Jeff says:
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    Lets have some common sense prevail. Getting Drunks off the road = Good, being drunk and driving is dangerous, no doubt about it. I do like the fact they are targeting alcoholics because they are always drunk, I am extremely opposed to the pulling of people over “just because”.
    And Richard, I’ve seen what happened to you or something similar so many times I cant count any more. It is way more common than people think, and its funny, you can argue with some one about it and they are all for it but then it happens to them and you wont see a more offended person anywhere! They finally understand why so many people don’t respect the RCMP any more.

    Something not noted in the story that is big news is the changing the limit to .05. this can not actually be about safety, since the .08 is already an arbitrary number that most people are not drunk at. But it IS close for many for getting tipsy so they set the number. Good, there needs to be a set number, especially in cities, where all these laws are created and meant for. There are so many laws that just do not apply to smaller towns or even mid size such as Kelowna ( I’m referring to all laws with this statement not just the drinking ones). 0.08 has been set for years and if you look at the stats accidents and deaths caused by drunk driving are caused by just that, drunk drivers, not drivers at 0.08 they are always far above 0.08 usually 1.5 or double the limit or more. check it out, its true.

    Every day there are new laws taking away our rights and freedoms in the name of safety and security. My Grandparents were struck and Killed by a drunk driver, so yes drunk driving has effected me very personally. I absolutely stand by my views because I believe them to be made with experience of the subject and an open mind.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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