Strathcona County RCMP, with the help of Edmonton police and Alberta sheriffs, kicked off the first Checkstop of the Christmas season this weekend and despite tougher penalties and increased awareness, police say too many drivers continue to get behind the wheel impaired.

“Right off the bat we encountered some open liquor,” said RCMP Cpl. Chris Little.

“I’ve seen no slow-down in the amount of drinking drivers that we’ve encountered on Alberta roads, which is rather sad.”

Little has been an officer for more than 30 years and says drivers still aren’t getting the message.

“There has been no dramatic slow-down. We’re still getting big numbers of drinking drivers,” Little said.

“It does frustrate me… the apathy that is shown by certain individuals is very selfish.”

The joint-forces Checkstop was conducted at Edmonton city limits, on 50th Street north of Beaumont and south of Ellerslie Road Saturday night and into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Sgt. Kerry Bates with the Edmonton Police Service says he’s curious to see if tougher impaired driving penalties will make a difference.

“Maybe that will help somewhat, but we get lots that are in double or higher than the legal limit,” Bates said.

After being a part of nearly 100 checkstops in his time, Bates is still surprised at the number of impaired drivers officers are catching on the roads.

“You would think, especially in the last 10 to 15 years, that more people would get the message, but every night we go out and it’s a steady eight, ten, 12 impaired,” Bates said.

“I’m not sure what drives them to do that.”

Edmontonians can expect to see increased Checkstop efforts during the holiday season, but police regularly conduct Checkstops throughout the year.