Delta Police have launched a 911 snitch campaign in an effort to nab drunk drivers.
But the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is concerned the police may have cast the net too wide in their description of possible impaired driving behaviour, with the danger being that some observers might take the descriptions too literally.
Partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, Delta's police force is one of the first in the Lower Mainland to embrace a 911 campaign encouraging citizens to help identify impaired driving suspects by calling the department's emergency line.
Delta's campaign, which kicked off Thursday, encourages residents to report suspicious motorists as they see them.
While the campaign's intent is laudable, says David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, he suggested police might want to reel in the descriptions of possible signs of impaired driving, lest they "create a huge body of work" for police.
"Do we want to spend those resources pulling people over for driving with an open window," Eby asked, "or on combating violent crime?"
Being stopped by police because somebody saw you driving around with your window open, or stopping well before a stop sign, would be "strange."
"It's a heavy club for driving around with an open window," Eby noted.
The Delta Police advise motorists who suspect they've seen a drunk driver to pull over, call 911, and then describe the driver, location, vehicle (i.e. colour, make and model), licence plate number and direction the suspicious driver is heading.
Delta Police have provided a list of 10 possible signs of an impaired driver: "Driving unreasonably fast, slow or at an inconsistent speed; drifting in and out of lanes; tailgating and changing lanes frequently; making exceptionally wide turns; changing lanes or passing without sufficient clearance; overshooting or stopping well before stops signs or stop lights; disregarding signals and lights; approaching signals or leaving intersections too quickly or slowly; driving without headlights, failing to lower high beams or leaving turn signals on; and driving with windows open in cold or inclement weather."
Const. Ciaran Feenan, spokesman for the Delta Police, notes that officers must respond to all 911 calls.
"We respond to them and if they're not impaired, they're free to go," he said.
Asked if police aren't concerned some peeved motorists might use this as a tool for revenge against other drivers, Feenan said that would constitute public mischief.
"Our hope is people don't misuse it and abuse it," he said.
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