If you plan on celebrating the holiday season with some beverages (and if you’re attending Christmas parties, you’ll probably indulge in a glass of wine or two), you should be absolutely certain that you have made arrangements to get home safely.
While drivers are strongly discouraged from drinking and driving all year long, people should note that the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will be launching its festive RIDE campaign this weekend (Nov. 23).
They won’t be the only ones watching for impaired drivers, as police services across the province take part in holiday RIDE programs aimed at taking alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers off the roads.
Because of new impaired driving laws phased in last year, the OPP is heading into the seasonal campaign with enhanced tools and authorities. Under the new law, police officers in possession of an approved screening device who lawfully pull over a driver in a RIDE initiative (or through any other lawful traffic stop) can now demand a breath sample without having reasonable suspicion that the driver has alcohol in their body.
- Canadians’ interactions with each other significantly reduced: cellphone data study
- Threatening letters a scam, Halton police say
- Halton police charge man with human trafficking offences
The OPP has also acquired approved drug screening equipment which can detect cannabis and cocaine in a driver’s saliva. The device can be used to enforce the provincial “zero tolerance” sanctions that now apply to young, novice and commercial drivers who are suspected of having the presence of drugs in their body.
“Whether a driver is impaired by alcohol, drugs or both, impaired is impaired – any time of year. Our frontline officers have never been more prepared than they are now to remove these dangerous drivers from our roads,” Thomas Carrique, OPP Commissioner, said in a statement.
Motorists should also note that officers can demand a driver to submit to a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) and a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Evaluation. SFST-trained officers and DREs have the expertise to detect impairment by alcohol, drugs or both in a driver.
Motorists are also reminded that RIDE checks happen throughout the year, but are seen quite often throughout the holiday season.
“With festive parties and holiday gatherings just around the corner, plan ahead and don’t drive impaired. It is a serious criminal offence to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and police officers across Ontario have the tools to detect impaired drivers. Please drive responsibly to help keep our roadways safe this holiday season,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, in a statement.
In 2018, 56 people were killed in alcohol/drug-related collisions on OPP-patrolled roads.
Close to 600 people have died on OPP-patrolled roads in the past ten years in collisions that involved an alcohol or drug-impaired driver.
Every day, on average, four Canadians are killed and 175 are injured in impairment-related crashes.
The OPP Festive RIDE Campaign runs from Nov. 23, 2019, to Jan. 2, 2020.