New program could impact local bars

A new partnership between police and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) could lead to investigations and “increased sanctions” against licenced establishments that served alcoholic beverages to impaired drivers.

A Jan. 28 press release from Wellington County OPP officials states that in order “to step-up efforts to target impaired drivers,” police  have joined forces with the AGCO in a program “designed to educate and assist licenced establishments in their compliance” with provincial liquor regulations.

“Wellington County OPP has been selected as one of 12 communities to participate in Phase 2 of the ‘Last Drink Program,’” said Inspector Scott Lawson. “We are pleased to partner in this very effective AGCO program.”

Under the Last Drink Program, police services like Wellington County OPP would identify the location of where the impaired driver consumed their last alcoholic beverage(s).  

When the location is determined to be a licensed establishment, the information is then forwarded to the AGCO for follow-up by its investigators.

Police say the program was initiated to identify issues within licensed establishments involving impaired drivers.  

“The goal of the program is to reduce the number of people charged with a drinking and driving offence by influencing licenced premise operators and alcohol servers to take responsibility for their serving practices,” stated the press release from the OPP.

The release adds, “Education, combined with increased sanctions against the licenced premise is a key component of the program.”

Police say drinking and driving numbers increased over the past year across the province – and Wellington County saw similar results.

“We need to take advantage of all programs and partnerships that are available to us in an effort to reduce incidents of impaired driving in our county,” said Lawson. “You can expect to see RIDE Programs continue year-round.