Hundreds charged with impaired driving across GTA during holidays
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, January 2, 2019 3:37PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 2, 2019 7:31PM EST
Hundreds of people were charged with impaired-related driving offences across the Greater Toronto Area during the holidays, according to 2018 RIDE program statistics.
In a news release issued Wednesday, Toronto police said that officers made 170 impaired-related arrests between Nov. 14 and Dec. 31, during their 2018 Holiday RIDE program.
Toronto police said that officers arrested 1,042 people for drinking and driving in 2018. Seventy-four people were charged with impaired-related offences concerning drugs.
“Unfortunately, we know that for every person arrested for impaired driving, there are many more that go undetected,” the Toronto Police Service said in the news release. “That is why partnerships and community involvement is so critical. Police want everyone to see impaired driving as a crime in progress and to call 9-1-1 when they suspect someone is driving impaired.”
More than 8,500 people called 9-1-1 to report suspected drunk driving in the last year, police said.
Durham Regional Police said they charged five more people with drinking and driving offences over their seven-week 2018 Festive RIDE campaign than the previous year. In total, 117 people were charged with impaired-related offences.
Durham police also said that 111 motorists received a three-day suspension of their license after being issued a warning.
Twenty-seven people were charged with Cannabis Act offences in the region.
“Police would also like to remind motorists to become aware of the new Cannabis Laws while transporting it in your motor vehicle. A driver cannot have cannabis in a motor vehicle when the seal of its original packaging is open and is within reach of the driver,” police said in a news release.“Durham Regional Police Service will continue RIDE spot checks throughout the year and remind motorists that drinking and driving or driving high will not be tolerated on our streets.”
In Halton region, seven people were charged with impaired-related driving offences between Dec. 24 and Dec. 31., according to police.
York Regional Police released a list of 22 people charged with impaired-related offences between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day on Tuesday.
In a news release, the service said that officers laid 1,650 charges for impaired-related driving offences in 2018.
Carolyn Swinson, Ontario Regional Director of MADD Canada, said she is “shocked and saddened” by the impaired driving numbers.
“It’s very difficult to understand that people know it’s wrong and they continue to do it. Hopefully, with having the changes to the laws that came in on Dec. 18, that that will make a difference,” she said.
Under new legislation, police officers have the right to ask any driver who is lawfully stopped to provide a breath sample. Penalties for impaired driving have also increased, with fines up to $2,000 and mandatory jail sentences for those who reoffend.
“It’s going to cost those people huge amounts of money to deal with those charges,” Swinson said. “I just shake my head as to why people would take that risk.”