Impaired driving charges saw a big increase during Oktoberfest this year.

According to Waterloo Regional Police, 18 people were charged with 29 offences relating to impaired driving during last month’s festival.

While those numbers are bigger than the 10 drivers charged with 16 offences in 2015, they’re also smaller than the 21 drivers charged with 35 offences the year before that.

And of course, there may be little correlation between the number of impaired drivers caught by police and the number who were actually on the roads.

But there is one trend that police don’t consider an isolated phenomenon – more drivers being charged with impaired driving in cases where alcohol isn’t the drug impairing them.

Staff Sgt. Jim Strand estimates that “about half” of this year’s Oktoberfest impaired driving charges related to drugs other than alcohol.

Strand suspects that can largely be chalked up to people hearing about the federal government taking steps toward marijuana legalization without realizing it remains an illegal drug until that happens.

“It tends to be more of an education issue at this point,” Strand said.

At the same time police are finding more drivers impaired by marijuana, they’re seeing fewer impaired by alcohol.

Strand sees a number of factors contributing to that, with one of the biggest being an increase in ridesharing and similar services that give people options other than driving home.

That theory is borne out by Waterloo-based RideCo, which says its drivers ferried about 500 passengers a day around Waterloo Region during Oktoberfest – nearly double their normal volume.

There were a total of 38 arrests made at Oktoberfest events in 2016 – five fewer than last year, and tying with 2014 for the lowest number on record.

Seven of the arrests were for criminal offences, while the rest were mainly for trespassing or liquor infractions.

The bulk of the arrests occurred at two specific festhallen – 18 of them at the Concordia Club, and 14 at Bingemans.

With reporting by Tyler Calver

Source: CTV News