Local News

Don’t drink and drive this holiday season

Story by: Kayla Kreutzberg

Photo by: Kayla Kreutzberg

It’s that time of year again, the Wellington County OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) are gearing up to launch their festive RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) campaign.

The RIDE programs are to address the issue of impaired drivers, particularly around the holiday season, and to get them off the roads.

Constable Kirk MacDonald with Wellington County OPP said if you are arrested for impaired driving, whether it be alcohol or drugs, upon arrest your vehicle could be impounded.

“You could receive a 90-day automatic driver’s license suspension, as per statue,” MacDonald said. “And then if one is convicted of impaired driving then you would receive a fine with your first offence, sometimes it’s in the range of $1000 to $1500, it all depends on the sentence the judge imposes.”

MacDonald said you would also receive a mandatory 1-year driver’s license suspension.

Const. MacDonald said that those penalties will increase upon further conviction, especially if someone is injured as a result of impaired driving, or even if you cause death.

MacDonald said now officers don’t require suspicion or reasonable probable grounds to demand a breath sample from any motorist, as long as it’s a lawful traffic stop.

“What occasionally happens is, for example, we have a RIDE check, [and] the officers may determine, ‘ok, for every tenth motorist were going to require them to do a breath test,’ because in the past a lot of impaired drivers were getting away undetected,” MacDonald said.

The OPP also have drug screening equipment which can detect cannabis and cocaine in a driver’s saliva.

Last year, Wellington County OPP conducted 112 RIDE spot-checks which resulted in 29 people being charged with impaired driving related offences.

Const. MacDonald said if you see someone out on the road driving erratically, and you think that person is perhaps impaired, call 911, because those moments that you do can perhaps save a life

“I can tell from personal experiences this has happened on a number of occasions where people have called 911, and fortunately we’ve intercepted a vehicle before they’ve got into a serious collision, and or potentially killed somebody,” MacDonald said.

Const. MacDonald adds that province wide, OPP laid 9,037 impaired driving charges in 2019. Of those, 485 collisions resulted in injuries and 31 were fatal collisions.

The festive RIDE campaign runs until January 2, 2021.