PEC OPP reveal alarming statistics amid further impaired driving incidents

The driver of this vehicle, involved in a collision on County Road 3 in late June 2023, was found to have over the legal concentration of blood alcohol after being tested following the collision, according to the OPP. Photo via PEC OPP.

So far in 2023, police in Prince Edward County (PEC) have laid more than 75 per cent of the number of impaired driving charges laid last year – and last year’s number of impaired driving charges in the County was “almost double the seven-year average.”

It should come as no surprise to Kingstonist readers that impaired driving has remained an issue in PEC throughout 2023; In PEC alone, we’ve reported over 30 instances of drivers charged with impaired driving in PEC this year.

Impaired driving charges in PEC in 2023 on the record:

Most recent impaired driving charges:

On Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, the PEC OPP reported three incidents involving impaired driving that occurred over the prior week.

In the hours when most are getting ready for work, officers with the PEC OPP were dispatched to the scene of a collision on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. The collision occurred on Lake Street in Picton just before 7 a.m., according to police. Responding officers spoke with the driver involved, who showed signs of impairment. This led to officers administering an “approved screening device” test, which detects alcohol. The results led to the arrest of 69-year-old James Mundy, a PEC resident. Mundy was charged with:

  • Operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs/alcohol (alcohol)
  • Operation of a motor vehicle while impaired with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit
  • Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle

Mundy was released from custody with a court date in late September. Additionally, the driver had their vehicle impounded for seven days, and thei licence was suspended for 90 days. Mundy will face a further licence suspension if convicted, and is responsible for all related fees and fines.

Another early morning incident occurred on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, when officers with the PEC OPP conducted a traffic stop on Highway 62. According to OPP, officers spoke with the driver, leading to the administration of an approved screening device test. The results of that testing led to the arrest of 29-year-old Luis Miranda Cotton of Belleville. Cotton was charged with:

  • Operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs/alcohol (alcohol)
  • Operation of a motor vehicle while impaired with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit
  • Speeding

Cotton was released from custody with a court date in September 2023. Additionally, the driver had their vehicle impounded for seven days, and their licence suspended for 90 days. Cotton will face a further licence suspension if convicted, and is responsible for all related fees and fines.

Mere hours later, PEC OPP officers responded to a single-vehicle collision on McFarland Court in Picton.

“Officers arrived on scene and spoke with the driver. Subsequent investigation led to the administration of an approved screening device,” the OPP said in a press release.

As a result, 29-year-old Adam Lasher of Napanee was arrested and transported to the PEC OPP Detachment for further testing. Lasher was charged with:

  • Operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs/alcohol (alcohol)
  • Operation of a motor vehicle while impaired with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit
  • Careless driving

Lasher was released from custody with a court date set for late September 2023. The driver had their vehicle impounded for seven days, and their licence suspended for 90 days. Lasher will face further licence suspension if convicted, and is responsible for all related fees and fines.

The bigger picture

A case of impaired driving in the County in May 2023 saw the driver collide with a tree on County Road 22. The 68-year-old driver was found to have a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit. Photo via PEC OPP.

Those with the OPP in Prince Edward County admit the number of impaired driving incidents is steadily on the rise in the County. In fact, the impaired driving statistics for the County are on track to well over double those of last year in 2023 – and 2022 was a record-setting year with regard to impaired driving events in PEC, police shared.

Very luckily – almost unbelievably – none of the impaired driving incidents thus far in 2023 have led to fatalities and, in fact, only saw injuries in one instance, according to Constable Aaron Miller, Media Relations Officer for PEC OPP. This contrasts the Ontario-wide statistics for 2022, which saw 51 impaired driving cases lead to fatalities on OPP-patrolled roadways before the holiday travelling season at the end of the year.

So far this year in PEC, 53 drivers have been charged with impaired driving, compared to the 70 charged with the same in all of 2022 – which, as mentioned, was already almost double the seven-year average.

“It’s certainly hard to say why it’s happening more,” Constable Miller said.

Of those impaired drivers in 2022 (keeping in mind these are just the ones who were charged by police), 72 per cent were male. More significantly, 78 per cent were residents of PEC.

“This is interesting to note, as we often hear folks blaming the out-of-town crowd [for impaired driving incidents],” Miller said.

Of the 70 people charged, 28 per cent were the result of concerned citizens reporting traffic complaints, according to police.

“This highlights the importance and success of reporting possible impaired drivers,” Miller underscored.

I find it very disturbing in this day and age, with all of the messaging in the media about planning a safe way home, that some motorists continue to drive impaired. The decision is easy: If you’re going to drink… don’t drive.”

 – A/Staff Sgt. Sean Guscott, PEC OPP

Like many of those with the OPP locally, Miller wants to implore residents to “plan a safe ride home” and “not drive impaired.” As such, the PEC OPP have conducted 182 RIDE Programs so far in 2023 – already a good 50+ more instances of the 110 RIDE Program checkpoints run in 2022, according to Acting Staff Sergeant Sean Guscott, who referred to the fact that nearly 80 per cent of impaired drivers in the County are local residents as “troubling.”

“I find it very disturbing in this day and age, with all of the messaging in the media about planning a safe way home, that some motorists continue to drive impaired. The decision is easy: If you’re going to drink… don’t drive. There are lots of options to get home now in Prince Edward County, all it takes is some preparation before you go out,” Staff Sgt. Guscott said, importuning local residents to plan ahead.

“You can count on the PEC OPP officers to continue to conduct RIDE programs all over the County in order to keep our highways safe,” Guscott continued. “And a reminder for our citizens: if you suspect someone is driving impaired, please dial 9-1-1 and report the incident including the description of the vehicle and the direction of travel, so that our officers can investigate the traffic complaint.”

Guscott underlined the importance of notifying police of suspected impaired driving: “In 2022, a third of the impaired drivers that were caught were as a result of calls made by concerned citizens!”

Citizens can report impaired drivers by calling 911, as Guscott indicated, or by calling the OPP at 1-888-310-1122. Those with information on impaired driving who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or submit a tip online at www.crimestoppersquinte.ca Those who submit tips through Crime Stoppers may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000. 

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