A police officer stops a driver.

Guelph file photo
573 people were charged with impaired driving-related offences between Nov. 23 and Jan. 2. after the 2015 Festive RIDE program

Ontario drivers are still not getting the message when it comes to getting behind the wheel while impaired, provincial police say.

According to statistics on the 2015 Festive RIDE program released this week by the OPP, 573 people were charged with impaired driving-related offences between Nov. 23 and Jan. 2.

In addition, more than 350 Ontario drivers received a roadside warning and had their licences suspended during this year’s five-week initiative.

Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the OPP’s highway safety division noted that this year’s results for stops conducted in the Greater Toronto Area were “about the same” as those of the 2014 Festive RIDE, with 128 people charged with impaired driving and 67 roadside suspensions.

On Hamilton roads patrolled by the OPP, 12 people were charged with impaired driving and 11 received roadside suspensions. In 2014, 15 were charged with impaired and seven got warnings and suspensions.

In Halton, police said arrests for impaired driving were down around 45 per cent this holiday season. Halton officers stopped more than 15,000 vehicles and arrested 31 people for impaired driving — down from 56 such arrests last year.

Three-day suspensions for blowing a “warn” on an alcohol screening device were up this year with police handing out 46 — a 65 per cent increase from 28 in 2014.

Early results forwarded by Hamilton Police media relations officer Const. Stephen Welton indicate the local service laid five impaired driving-related charges between Dec. 23 and 28.

Those charges included one for impaired, one for driving with a blood-alcohol level higher than .08, one for refusing to provide a breath sample, and one for impairment by drug.

All of the drivers charged were male.

Calls to Hamilton’s Operation Lookout, a police program where citizens report suspected impaired drivers on the road, resulted in two of the local arrests.

Hamilton police report that alcohol was a factor in one multi-vehicle collision.

“It continues to be a problem for us,” Schmidt said, referring to drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking. “And people are dying because of this.

“We don’t want people driving while impaired. If you’re going to drink, find another way of getting home.”

Flamborough Review

With files from InsideHalton.com

Source: The Hamilton Spectator