car keys are held in front of a tall glass of beer

Drinking and driving. (Fotolia)

Incidents of impaired driving on highways in the GTA have increased dramatically over last year, the OPP said Wednesday.

Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1, Ontario Provincial Police issued 1,020 criminal charges for impaired driving or driving over the legal limit — an increase of 31% compared to the same period in 2014 when 776 charges were issued.

Sgt. Kerry Schmidt attributes the increase in charges to motorists reporting suspected drunk drivers to police.

“We certainly want to remind motorists if you have been drinking, don’t drive — and wait not just a couple of hours,” Schmidt said. “It can take over 12 hours to eliminate all the alcohol from your body.”

The spike in charges locally defies a trend across the province that shows an 11% decrease in drunk-driving charges. Schmidt said given there are many more cars and drivers in the GTA versus rural areas, it greatly increases the chances of being caught.

But alcohol-related deaths have gone down significantly this year, with 19 fatalities compared to the first seven months of 2014 when 34 people died, police said.

Andrew Murie, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, credited the public’s reporting and the police for responding.

“The police are intervening before the actual crash happens … they’re doing an amazing job,” Murie said in response to the decrease in deaths.

He called on the federal government to introduce legislation to allow for road-side drug testing in order to zero in on drug-impaired drivers as well as greater testing powers for police.

Source: Toronto Sun