The other day, I was having a conversation with an old friend of mine. Of course, the conversation got around to my Impaired Conviction, and my buddy started trading stories with me. I should also point out that my friend, years ago, used to be on the Provincial police force up here – however, it was quite some time ago.
During our conversation, we discussed how policing originally was based on prevention of crime in the first place. I talked about how I had a conversation with another acquaintance of mine who had also been on a police force, and his idea was that every police statistic should actually be seen as a failure of the system, not as something to hold on to to show that police officers are doing their job. It’s an interesting perspective to say the least.
My friend that I was having lunch with the other day brought up an experience he had one evening. He had gone into a pub not far from his house – indeed, it’s within walking distance and he knows if he’s had too much to drink, there is no problem walking home. He’s done it many times.
This particular occasion however, he had only one beer while he was inside the pub, and based on the length of time he had taken to drink it while having dinner, he was absolutely positive he was not even close to being impaired. So, he chose to drive his vehicle home.
Just as he pulled out of the parking lot, and unmarked police cruiser turned on its lights and siren and pulled him over. My friend wasn’t worried and sure enough he blew a pass into the roadside alcohol screening device. The police officer let him get on his way, behind the wheel of his vehicle so he could resume his short trip home.
The incident though, brings up some questions, and perhaps there are legal reasons that would answer the questions better, it does make one wonder about the concept of enforcement vs. prevention. Let’s take a look at some scenarios.
What if my friend really did have too much to drink, saw the cruiser trying to pull him over, but instead of pulling over, panicked? It does happen and as much as anyone can criticize someone who does not immediately stop for a police officer, panic can set in and motivate us to do things we would not normally do. Perhaps my friend, in a state of panic, accelerated – and ended up hitting a pedestrian.
Who would be to blame for that? Now, I’m not suggesting there is no blame on the driver in this situation. But considering reality, it is a possibility. If the police officer was more interested in prevention instead of padding his monthly stats, mightn’t he have done a public service by suggesting to my friend, before he even got behind the wheel, something along the lines of, in a friendly way, “Hey sir – we’re just trying to be helpful – we don’t want to see you have to suffer the consequences of an impaired charge or a DUI – want to make sure you’re ok to drive?” and then offer to let the person find out by blowing into the roadside screening device.
If the person were to blow a caution or a fail, that police officer has just helped to prevent a tragedy as well as the horrible consequences of an Impaired conviction. There is now no need for the driver to go into panic mode.
Such preventative type of actions might save a lot more heartache, if it were initiated.
What do you think? And if you’re a police officer, feel free to advise as to why you wouldn’t do this sort of thing.