New Westminster police responded to two separate impaired driving collisions before noon on Friday.
A motorist was transported to Royal Columbian Hospital after suffering being struck head-on by an alleged impaired driver on Friday, Jan. 8 at about 8 a.m. The collision occurred at Fader and Braid streets.
“Our members spoke to the victim’s daughter. She confirmed that the victim had suffered two broken vertebrae and a cracked sternum,” police spokesperson Sgt. Sanjay Kumar told the Record. “Pretty significant injuries.”
According to Kumar, the female driver of the other vehicle fled the scene and was located about two blocks away. He said the woman had some bruises and injuries to her fingers.
“She was just wandering in the area,” he said. “Our members had a description of her and located her.”
The New Westminster Police Department is recommending a number of charges against a 37-year-old Surrey resident, including failing to remain at the scene of an accident, refusing to comply with demand (for a breathalyzer test) and causing an accident resulting in bodily harm.
Although the suspected impaired driver refused to take a breathalyzer test, Kumar said there are other ways of assessing intoxication. That includes the observations of witnesses and police officers who dealt with the driver.
Four hours later – about noon on Jan. 8 – New Westminster police officers attended the 400 block of Eighth Avenue in response to their second impaired driving incident of the day.
“This was a female that was travelling along Eighth Avenue. She hit about two to three parked cars,” Kumar said. “When our member arrived on scene, she was sitting in the passenger side of the vehicle. After a brief conversation, it was determined she was the driver and actually was impaired.”
According to Kumar, the woman admitted she had been driving the car.
“Impaired driving can be alcohol- or drug-related. For this one, the female was intoxicated. There was the odor of liquor coming from her breath,” he said. “It was quite clear to the members that this person was intoxicated at the time.”
Kumar said the driver is facing charges under the Motor Vehicle Act and her vehicle will be impounded for 30 days.
“The laws are written in such a way that we can charge criminally or under the Motor Vehicle Act,” he said. “It’s at the discretion of the officer at the time.”
Kumar was unable to say how much damage the vehicles sustained during the collisions, but he said it was significant enough that they were all towed from the scene.
The Jan. 8 impaired driving cases come after what Kumar says was a “relatively quiet” holiday season.
The timing of the impaired driving collisions on Friday, Jan. 8 was a bit unusual for police, in that one occurred at 8 a.m. and another at noon.
“This one was a little unique,” Kumar said. “We rarely come across something like this that happens in the morning; they are typically at night.”
In a press release about the collisions, the New Westminster Police Department reminds citizens that resources are available for people who would benefit from speaking to a substance use or mental health professional – including those who may be consuming more alcohol during the pandemic or experiencing declining mental health.
“Choosing to drink and then get behind the wheel and drive is irresponsible and shows poor judgment,” Kumar said in a news release. “It puts everyone around that driver, including him or herself, at risk.”
More information about mental health and substance use sources in Fraser Health can be found www.fraserhealth.ca. Information about additional mental health supports being provided by the provincial government can be found at www.gov.bc.ca/Covid19MentalHealthSupports.
Anyone who sees an impaired driver is asked to call 9-1-1.