News Local

Impaired driving charges up

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

(Postmedia Network file photo)

(Postmedia Network file photo)

Provincial police say more impaired driving charges were laid on Ontario highways during the past holiday season than in any year since 2005.

Between Nov. 24 and Jan. 2, officers charged 693 drivers with having a blood alcohol concentration of more than 80 milligrams and suspended the licences of 625 motorists found driving with a blood alcohol concentration in the warning range of between 50 and 80 milligrams. That compares with 682 impaired charges and 583 warning suspensions the previous year.

In the Upper Ottawa Valley detachment area, officers issued three warning suspensions and charged seven drivers with having a blood alcohol concentration of more than 80 milligrams or refusing to provide a breath sample.

During the Festive Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) program in 2011, seven warnings were issued, while seven motorists were charged with impaired driving. OPP officials are at a loss to explain how so many drivers can still risk their safety and those they share the road with by climbing behind the wheel after having one drink too many.

"It is so well publicized," said Constable Beth Ethier, the detachment's community services officer. "The Festive RIDE is done yearly and yet seven people chose to drink and get behind the wheel."

An examination of the statistics also revealed that not all charges came as a result of RIDE checkpoints conducted by officers throughout the catchment area that stretches from Whitewater Region to Head, Clara, Maria Township. Many charges were laid because officers responded to a witness complaint or a motor vehicle collision, or during a routine vehicle stop.

"Drivers should not risk it," noted Ethier saying it is simple enough for those who have drank too much to call a cab, catch a ride with a designated driver or stay overnight at a friend's house.

Although the number of seven charges may not seem like much, Ethier said just one impaired driver is one too many.

"That is very high and we would like it to be zero," she said.

According to the OPP, 61 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle collisions provincially last year.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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