Fewer impaired driving charges this year

WELLINGTON COUNTY- As of Dec. 17, Wellington County OPP had charged 13 people with impaired driving-related offences since the Festive RIDE program was launched on Nov. 21.

Wellington County OPP spokesperson Kirk MacDonald said in an email that nine other people received warning range suspensions, meaning their blood-alcohol concentration was between 50 and 80mg per 100ml of blood.

MacDonald said 17 people were charged in the same time frame last year.

“When last year’s  Festive RIDE program ended on Jan, 2, 2020, we ended up charging a total of 29 people with impaired-related offences.  Thirty more people received warning range suspensions,” MacDonald said.

The Ontario government recently announced $4.8 million in RIDE program funding to be distributed among municipalities across the province.

The funding is used to carry out year-round road safety initiatives such as education campaigns and roadside spot checks.

Wellington County will receive a portion of that pot but the exact amount isn’t yet known, MacDonald said.

“Driving impaired, whether from drugs or alcohol, is not only illegal, it can be fatal. Making alternate plans to get home safely only takes a minute, and it can save your life and the lives of others,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones when the provincial announcement was made.

“With the holiday season upon us, education campaigns and roadside spot checks are vital tools in the police arsenal to inform people about the dangers of driving impaired and the ways to keep our roads and highways safe.”

Transportation  minister Caroline Mulroney said, “Ontario has among the safest roads in North America and we are committed to making them even safer. There is no reason anyone should be driving a vehicle after they have been drinking. There are plenty of alternative ways for people to avoid drinking and driving, including the use of our excellent public transit systems.”

According to provincial data, more than 1,700 people have died and over 25,000 people have been injured in collisions involving an impaired driver in the last decade in Ontario. Drivers found to be driving while impaired will face penalties immediately. They will also face additional consequences if convicted in court.

Penalties can vary depending on age, licence type, the amount of alcohol or drugs in the driver’s system, and how many times they have offended.