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Online roadblock tipoffs concern police

Dec 31 2011

As traffic cops plan to crack down on drunk drivers today, police are having to contend with more people broadcasting their roadblock locations online.

Victoria police spokesman Const. Mike Russell said he has noticed a few Twitter posts identifying their roadblock positions.

"It certainly concerns me," Russell said. "We want to catch impaired drivers. If you're out on the road, to take another route doesn't solve the problem, it exacerbates it."

Sgt. Mike Barkley, who heads Saanich police's traffic section, said his 19-year-old son tipped him off to a BlackBerry messenger group that sends information about police roadblocks.

There are also free smartphone applications that post the locations of speed traps, red-light cameras and alcohol check stops.

In some ways, people blabbing about alcohol checkpoints sparks a conversation and might lead to education about the dangers of drinking and driving, Barkley said.

"We're in this day and age with Twitter and BlackBerry groups, we can't fight it, we're not going to stop that, so I lean toward the educational component."

Perhaps someone will choose not to drink and drive if their friend tells them traffic cops are on lookout, he said.

Barkley added that police can change roadblock locations at a moment's notice, so the information going out online can be outdated.

Roadblocks will be set up on major arteries throughout the region today. Police urged people to make a plan for getting home if they are going to be drinking.

B.C. Transit is offering a free service today from 6 p.m. Buses on routes 4, 6 and 14 will run until 1:30 a.m.

New Year's Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year for taxi companies, which are typically backed up with hours-long waiting lists in the early hours of Jan. 1.

Tyler McLoughlin, owner of Drive Smart Designated Drivers, has had many people call in advance to book a pair of drivers — one who drives the customers in their car and a second man in another car, who takes the first driver to the next call.

McLoughlin has extra drivers working and said if last year is any indication, they'll be ferrying revellers from parties until

5 a.m. "It will be our busiest day of the year, because it's a partying holiday," he said.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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