Christmas is just around the corner in Kelowna and the Okanagan and it’s time to plan a ride home. People drink to celebrate the Christmas holiday season. It just seems to be a fact of life. And therein lies the most important point to remember this Christmas – the gift of life. Drinking and driving takes lives and it is not a gift to survive a drunk driving crash with catastrophic injuries.
Kelowna RCMP is in full swing employing extra vigilance on the roads for impaired drivers – a counterattack aimed at those who drink and drive. Disturbingly, no matter how much information is around about drinking and driving, the fact is, people still drive while inebriated.
The launch of the season began earlier this month and was perturbingly marked by two drunk driving wrecks and one drunk driver slumped behind the wheel of his vehicle behind a restaurant. The first crash sent three to hospital and shut down highway traffic in Peachland at the 6800 block of Highway 97 South, for several hours.
According to eyewitness reports, a Chevy Uplander was seen driving erratically down the highway at a high rate of speed, weaving in and out traffic. It wasn’t long before it was involved in a head-on collision with a southbound Toyota Corolla. The Uplander minivan continued on after the impact, slamming into a telephone pole and knocking it over before landing on the passenger’s side.
Emergency crews arriving on the scene extracted three individuals from the Toyota. The Chevy driver, a woman from West Kelowna, was arrested at the scene for impaired driving. She refused to take a field sobriety test or provide any other samples, and was subsequently taken to hospital and released into the care of medical professionals. Charges are pending based on the investigation of the crash.
Not a day had passed, when yet another two-car crash was reported on Boucherie Road, near Montigny Rd., involving another head-on wreck between a Toyota Camry and a grey Acura. Again, eyewitnesses to the crash told police the Acura, which was heading south, was seen to be travelling at an excessive rate of speed. The driver lost control of the vehicle, fishtailed and slammed into the white Camry. The passengers in the Camry miraculously sustained non-life threatening injuries.
The Acura driver was seen tossing a cup and box of wine out of the car window. When police arrived, the 39-year-old Kelowna resident was detained and taken to the West Kelowna RCMP detachment. His breath samples registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) three and a half times the legal limit. He faces charges of impaired driving and driving while over .08. His Promise to Appear demands he attend court in January 2014.
Obviously drinking and driving do not mix. But, drinking and sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle, with the obvious intention to drive, is also not a wise move, as evidenced by the man police found sitting in a Jeep behind the Harvey Avenue Boston Pizza. He was four times over the legal limit, and driving while suspended. His charges were DUI and driving while over .08. He appears in court in January as well.
If you choose to drink for the holidays, or at any other time of the year, think ahead. Designate a driver, take a cab, hop on a bus, or book a room at a hotel/motel within walking distance. It’s better to have your friends preach over you while you are alive and well, rather than having the voice of a minister preaching over your coffin. Think. Don’t drink and drive, because accidents ‘can’ happen to ‘you.’
D. Glenn Einfeld is a highly knowledgeable and experienced BC personal injury lawyer and BC motorcycle accident lawyer who has successfully litigated many ICBC claims and other insurance claims, including out of province claims, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury, whiplash, soft tissue injury, and all other serious injury claims.