Festive R.I.D.E. campaign targets impaired driving

Photo by First Response Media.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are running a Festive R.I.D.E. campaign this year, in hopes of preventing impaired driving over the holiday season.

Between robust mandatory alcohol screening laws, vigilant citizens and dedicated officers, the Ontario Provincial Police reminds drivers they’ll have plenty to worry about if they choose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs over the holidays, according to a release from the OPP, dated Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020.

The Festive R.I.D.E. campaign kicks off this week and runs until Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. 

 “As Ontarians celebrate this physically distanced holiday season, an important part of staying safe is ensuring you have a solid plan that prevents you and your family from driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs,” said Thomas Carrique, Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner. “The OPP encourages citizens to continue reporting impaired drivers to police. Combined with the dedication of our frontline officers, our collective efforts can significantly help keep you and your loved ones safe on our roads during the holidays and throughout the year.”

According to the release, OPP have received more than 21,800 calls to report suspected impaired drivers so far this year (2020), and the OPP are praising these proactive citizens for doing their part to help keep these dangerous drivers off our roads. Close to 3,300 such calls were placed during the 2019/20 Festive R.I.D.E. campaign and reflect the ‘zero tolerance’ attitude the OPP encourages everyone to adopt every day. 

Motorists are reminded that officers regularly conduct Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) with drivers who are lawfully pulled over and they will be ramping up this investigative measure, including at R.I.D.E. stops, throughout the campaign, OPP said in the release.  

“Impaired driving continues to be the leading criminal cause of death and injury on Ontario’s roads, and these dangers remain a threat to our communities as we continue to face COVID-19 this holiday season,” stated Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We all want a safe and happy holiday season, and it is important to remind our friends and family to plan ahead and make alternative arrangements to get home safely. The decision to get behind the wheel impaired can be a matter of life and death.”

Now heading into its third year, under the MAS law, an officer with an approved alcohol screening device can demand a breath sample from any driver without having reasonable suspicion that they have alcohol in their body.  

Drug screening equipment that detects cannabis (and cocaine) in a driver’s saliva is another important resource officers have at their disposal, according to the release. These devices are used to enforce the provincial “zero tolerance” sanctions that apply to young, novice and commercial drivers who are suspected of having the presence of drugs in their body. 

Under impaired driving laws, the OPP can also demand that a driver 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.  

Drivers and passengers are reminded to adhere to strictly-enforced laws relating to the transportation of cannabis in a motor vehicle.

Quick facts from OPP:

  • Forty two (42) people have died on OPP-patrolled roads so far this year (2020) in collisions that involved an alcohol/drug-impaired driver.
  • OPP officers conducted more than 8,800 R.I.D.E. stops, charging 605 motorists with impaired driving during the 2019/20 Festive R.I.D.E. campaign.

The OPP Festive RIDE Campaign runs from Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020 to Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.              

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