‘Staggering’ number of impaired drivers caught after Shambhala Music Festival – BC News

todayJuly 28, 2023 2

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The number of impaired drivers taken off the road after the Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo, B.C. was “frightening,” say police.

The long running festival returned to Kootenays July 21 to 24, attracting tens of thousands of people from across the continent.

On the Monday and Tuesday following the event, BC Highway Patrol say they removed a “staggering” 57 impaired drivers from the road and issued 162 violation tickets in relation to a variety of offences from vehicle defects to unlicensed drivers and uninsured vehicles.

Impaired driving specialist investigators from across the province were brought in to complete 85 standardized field sobriety tests, 20 drug recognition evaluations and 11 approved screening device tests.

The music festival, which does not allow alcohol and has operated since 1998 as a family-run event, allows attendees to stay on the grounds for a day after the music ends to rest up in an attempt to reduce impaired and fatigued driving.

During the week leading up to the event, police took three impaired drivers and three prohibited drivers off the road, had 447 contacts related to speeding of which 37 were excessive speed (more than 40 kilometers over the speed limit), and 55 other violations. The vehicles driven by all of the excessive speed violators were impounded for seven days.

Police highlighted an incident of excessive speeding involving a tractor trailer unit travelling through the reduced speed area at the entrance to Shambhala.

BC Highway Patrol said there were many drivers not attending the festival were caught up in congestion during enforcement, who expressed frustration with the situation and were unaware Shambhala is a private event on private land.

“There is no mechanism in the Regional District of Central Kootenay to require involvement and safety planning with law enforcement nor does the Shambhala organization pay for any of the extra public services required including police services,” Insp. Chad Badry, officer in charge of Kootenay Highway Patrol, said in a news release Friday.

“We really appreciated the patience of many of the people caught up in the road checks that had not attended the festival, particularly those who took the time to express their appreciation to our officers for taking the extra effort to keep our roads safe.”

“These statistics are frightening considering we were only able to check a small portion of the people attending the festival and these people were aware there would be police road checks,” he continued.

“While I’m sure many had a good time in the festival, it is unacceptable to put everyone on the roadways at risk.”

Police also attended the festival near the end of the event after a crew member drowned in the Salmo River, which runs next to the festival grounds.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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