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Updated: 6th January 2019 20:37

Calgary police frustrated by multiple impaired crashes

Calgary police are shaking their heads after two men died and roughly 10 others were injured in two suspected drunk-driving crashes over the weekend.

Police don’t know how to send a stronger message not to drink and drive

Recent drinking and driving related crashes around the city have Calgary police shaking their heads.

James Gregory Paul, 20, and Arash Karimian, 20, of Calgary died following a suspected drunk-driving accident early Sunday morning.

They were two out of three people travelling in the car northbound on John Laurie Boulevard around 1:30 a.m. at a high rate of speed. The car allegedly ran a red light and was hit by a truck.      

Karimian, a passenger in the car, died in hospital from his injuries. Paul, the driver, died at the scene. The third passenger — who was in the back seat — received only minor injuries.

Alcohol is believed to be responsible for another weekend accident.

A compact car carrying nine young people, including two in the trunk, rolled over near John Laurie Boulevard and 19th St. N.W. around 11 p.m. on Friday.

Everyone in the car was taken to hospital, but are all expected to recover. Police say they're lucky to have survived.

The 19-year-old driver is facing impaired driving charges.

Chronic offenders need a stronger message

Sgt. Rick Butler said on average they are catching drunk drivers that are not one, not two, but three times the legal limit. ((CBC))

Sgt. Rick Butler of the Calgary police said since the beginning of the year they have seen an increase in the alcohol level of people they are catching. On average it’s three times the legal limit and so far this year they are on par with the amount of impaired driving charges given out.

Duty Insp. Paul Stacey says he's not sure how to get the point across that drinking and driving is extremely dangerous.

"We have been beating that drum for so many years, there (are) so many organizations out there that are so high profile and everybody knows that drinking and driving is an absolute no-no, but for whatever reason it still occurs," he said.

Chloë Atkins of the University of Calgary’s law and society program says there seems to be one section of the population not getting it.

She suggests more investigation into what that population is and what they’ll listen to.

Tracy Franklin is with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). She lost her 23-year-old daughter after she got in a car with a drunk driver who crashed on Deerfoot Trail and Peigan Trail eight years ago.

Her funeral was on Oct. 31, 2003.

Franklin feels like the message is getting out, but there should be stronger sentences for those who choose to drive drunk.

Just last week, four teens were killed in Grande Prairie when a 21-year-old alleged drunk driver hit their car.

Brendan Holubowich faces 11 charges in relation to the accident, but his court case has been held over until November.

"You know when we're talking about youth it's maybe a lack of life experience, and that feeling of invincibility that seems to get them through but I'm just not sure how to get the message out any stronger than we have been," said Stacey.

Alberta considering tougher laws

A number of other recent crashes are being blamed on alcohol, including a 17-year-old hockey player who's facing drinking-and-driving related charges in the death of his girlfriend from a crash in Springbank last May.

A 35-year-old Okotoks man is facing multiple charges — including impaired driving causing death — in connection to a fatal crash in southern Alberta in July.

These recent accidents also come at a time when Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s government is looking into strengthening drunk-driving laws.

Redford made the announcement after meeting with B.C. Premier Christy Clark last Friday. That province instated strict penalties that it claims have cut drinking and driving deaths by half.

In B.C., police can immediately suspend a licence for three days and impound the vehicle on a first offence if the driver blows over .05 per cent.

That's lower than the criminal code bar of .08 per cent, which is what Alberta uses.

Alberta's solicitor general Jonathan Denis told CBC at the time of the announcement that Alberta may not copy B.C.'s laws exactly — and first needs to do more research.

Denise Dubyk, president of MADD, welcomes stronger legislation surrounding drunk driving.

"To hear a premier say those two words — impaired driving, strengthening legislation — is something we have not heard in a long, long time," she said in a previous interview.

She says along with tougher penalties, MADD would like to see the graduated driving license program extended to age 22.

Articled from the CBC RSS Syndication CBC.ca - RSS Feeds Copyright is that of their respective owners (CBC) Calgary News Releases

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