Minutes after setting up a road block at Sutton Pass on the start of the May long weekend, RCMP Cpl. Mike Elston issued three tickets: one being a 90-day driving suspension to a drunk driver.
“It was a fluke,” said Elston, who headed up the multi-agency road check on Pacific Rim Highway and Sutton Pass on Friday afternoon. “In my 15 years of policing I have never got them back-to-back.”
Between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. approximately 650 vehicles went through the road check staffed by 15 officers from the RCMP’s Central Vancouver Island Traffic Services, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and conservation officers.
There were 63 violations resulting in tickets and warnings. Officers checked for the usual traffic safety violations such as driving without insurance, driving under the influence and not wearing a seatbelt, as well as hunting and fishing violations.
One violation was particularly troubling, Elston said. An officer noticed a one- and two-year-old sleeping on the back seats of a vehicle instead of being secured in baby car seats.
“These people needed to get family to get them [baby] car seats in Port Alberni,” Elston explained. “They didn’t own [baby] car seats.”
There were two immediate roadside vehicle suspensions for drunk driving, four failure to wear a seatbelt citations, eight failure to display an “N” by new drivers, five drivers ticketed for failure to produce a driver’s license, one open liquor seizure and one marijuana seizure. Warnings were served to 14 vehicles that needed to replace headlights or windshields.
Targeting the Sutton Pass area with this many officers representing various agencies was something different for the area and was a result of a recommendation from a RCMP officer.
“He’s a frequent West Coast visitor both for work and for pleasure purposes,” Elston said. “We figured why not give it a try. Sutton Pass is not an area we do team-based enforcement very often because of the location.”
Elston explained the area has poor cellphone reception and is difficult to get to as the Central Vancouver Island Traffic Services is stationed in Oceanside but their coverage includes Parksville, Port Alberni and parts of Nanaimo and Tofino.