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Police catch 57 impaired drivers after Shambhala

Police say they removed a “staggering” 57 impaired drivers from local roads in the two days following the Shambhala Music Festival.

In a news release, the BC Highway Patrol said it also issued 162 tickets for a variety of offences from vehicle defects to unlicensed drivers and uninsured vehicles.

The electronic music festival near Salmo draws thousands of visitors each year.

Insp. Chad Badry the officer in charge of the highway patrol in the region, said leading up to the festival, police took three impaired drivers and three prohibited drivers off the road. They also clocked 447 vehicles speeding, of which 37 were doing so excessively (more than 40 km/h over the limit), and 55 other violations.

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One of the speeders was a tractor trailer travelling through a reduced speed area at the Shambhala entrance while another led to a drug trafficking investigation. All the vehicles driven by the excessive speeders were impounded for a week.

On Monday and Tuesday after the event, police focused on impaired and fatigued drivers. They brought in specialists from around the province who did 85 sobriety tests, 20 drug evaluations, and 11 screening device tests.

Police say many people who were not attending the festival were “caught up it the congestion” and many of those who were frustrated didn’t know Shambhala is on private land.

Badry said Shambhala doesn’t pay for any of the extra public services required during the festival, including police.

“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,” he said.

However, he added the statistics are “frightening” given that they were only able to check a small portion of those attending the festival, and those people knew there would be police road checks.

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

We have asked festival organizers for comment.

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