Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jan 2018
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 North Bay Nugget
Author: Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles
Page: A3


Organization recognizes officer of the year

North Bay police Const. Mitch Thomas is surprised how many people
still get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

Thomas arrested six people for impaired in 2017 and was recognized
during Tuesday's monthly police services board meeting as the Mothers
Against Drunk Driving officer of the year.

Thomas, who has been an officer for the past three years, said he
still remembers the first motorist he charged with impaired.

"It was a gentleman from out of town. We got the call just after the
bar rush," Thomas said.

"The motorist left an establishment, drove over a snowbank, ran
through a red light and tried to make a left-hand turn on a one-way
road," he said.

"We were able to locate him a short time later. he was arrested and
charged with impaired."

Thomas said often people get confrontational when they are stopped by
police who suspect there is an impaired driver behind the wheel. he's
also heard all the excuses. "Typically people say they only had one
drink at dinner or a couple of drinks several hours ago, but typically
you can smell the alcohol on their breath," he said.

Legislation coming forward this summer to legalize marijuana will have
challenges for both police and organizations like MADD.

Thomas said it will be a little more difficult to pinpoint someone who
is impaired by narcotics, especially by marijuana.

Erin Celebre and Jackie McLeod of Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Nipissing chapter were on hand to present Thomas with the award.

They said the focus will not shift away from alcohol, but rather
include marijuana.

Celebre said MADD is concerned with the new legislation, because
there's more opportunities for people to make irresponsible decisions
that could impact their lives, as well as the lives of others.
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