The Nelson Police Department and their partners are out in full force doing their part to keep impaired drivers off the road. In a checkstop held Thursday evening

A night with the Nelson CounterAttack crew

At least it isn’t -24 degrees says Cst. Eric Enkirch putting on gloves a mere 20 minutes after donning a toque.

At least it isn’t -24 degrees says Cst. Eric Enkirch, putting on gloves a mere 20 minutes after donning a toque.

The Nelson police officer and three colleagues are out on the second ICBC CounterAttack roadcheck of the holiday season.

Just outside Nelson where Granite and Government Roads meet Highway 3A, the busy intersection seems chaotic with flashing lights and cars approaching without reprieve. Calm and cordial, the officers’ number one goal for the night is catching impaired drivers.

“It really is unfathomable that people still drink and drive in this day and age,” says Enkirch.

But they do and in this case, it doesn’t make officers happy to catch their criminal.

“I would love to come out here and check a million cars and not find a single impaired driver but we catch them every time.”

On this night, as a few flakes fall, officers check just over 400 cars in two locations. They hand out one suspension, tow two vehicles for no insurance and license, and make three drug seizures. One man drives up to the checkstop with a bag of marijuana obviously sitting between his legs.

It’s about asking questions and observing for these officers. They watch how people drive, give a sniff and look for physical symptoms, obviously. But there are little techniques these police have learned through experience that help them find those drivers who shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

“Sometimes it’s easy to tell. Sometimes it’s not,” Enkirch says.

Officers get special training to tell whether drivers have consumed alcohol and/or drugs. Often, they can even tell what drugs a suspect has taken.

Several drivers admit consuming one drink, a good idea considering the nose knows. Denying he’s been drinking when Enkirch could smell alcohol on his breath holds up one man who takes a breathalyzer exam.

“Why’d he lie?” asks a suspicious officer.

Alcohol affects everyone differently and there’s no formula to tell how many drinks a person can safely put back before taking their car to the road. It’s better to just not take chances, says Enkirch.

Directing traffic from all angles becomes an intricate game as officers don’t want to hold up commuters. No one seems to mind, however. Enkirch says most appreciate police work to keep drunks of the road.

“The vast majority don’t mind being inconvenienced,” he says.

In the dark of night the flashing lights of police cars are enough to make any driver’s heart rate increase and palms sweat. Add in the officers stopping cars in their bold yellow vests for visibility and the fact you know you’re next in line, it’s normal to be nervous.

“I am a police officer and I get nervous,” says Enkirch.

A quick chat and license plate check sends most drivers through.

Nelson Police may have their favourite checkstop locations but they aren’t telling. They mix it up as much as possible so “people can’t get a false sense of where we will be,” says the constable. He adds that how long they stay at any one location varies as well. Sometimes he needs that toque and mitts until the wee hours of the morning.

The Nelson Police Department held another checkstop on December 6. Several high profile locations were targeted for these stops with over 320 drivers checked that evening. Two drivers had their licenses suspended for drinking and driving. Several others were arrested for other criminal activities.

Safe driving tips for the holidays

This holiday season, Nelson police are asking people to remember the following:

• Make the right choice for everyone – don’t drive if you have been drinking or using drugs.

• You do not have to be legally drunk to be charged with impaired driving.

• Plan ahead for safe transportation. There are alternatives to impaired driving.

• If you encounter a suspected impaired driver, record the vehicle license plate number and dial 911 anywhere in the province.

Nelson police are warning drivers they’ll be out in full force this holiday season to make sure people are not getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Just Posted

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmore Junction

LETTERS: In support of student climate strikers

From readers Tia Leschke and Sharon Inkpen

Kootenay Musical Theatre Society ready to make a deal with the Devil

The new group will put on an original show in October at the Capitol Theatre

Touchstones releases 2019 exhibition schedule

The museum has seven exhibits set for the year

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read