It may not be the happiest present of all for those who continue to take chances with alcohol and driving, but the OPP is launching its R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) this Friday, Nov. 26 and continuing the campaign through Jan. 2, 2011.
OPP say that by Nov. 21 of this year, 304 people have died on roadways they patrol. Fifty of the deaths were the result of alcohol-related collisions.
Const. John Reurink of the OPP says the initiative continues because it works.
"The Festive R.I.D.E. initiative has proven to be an effective deterrent and an important tool in raising awareness about the continued, senseless loss of life and injuries that result from driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs," he noted in a media release.
During the 2009 five-week OPP R.I.D.E. initiative, OPP officers stopped 1,199,280 vehicles at roadside checkpoints, compared to 884,729 in 2008.
Last year, some 299 persons were charged with criminal code alcohol-related offences compared to 319 in 2008. Officers also laid a total 5,195 other driving-related charges and issued 746 warn range suspensions during last year’s R.I.D.E. campaign.
This year's R.I..D.E. program coincides with new legislation that takes effect Dec. 1. After that time, drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 80 milligrams or who fail/refuse to comply with a demand to provide a sample by a police officer will see their vehicles impounded for seven days.
This change to the Ontario driving law is in addition to other recent changes that took effect in August, 2010, where drivers under 21 years, regardless of the class of licence they have, must have a zero BAC or be suspended on the spot for 24 hours.
Also, under the new Safe Roads for a Safer Ontario Act introduced last year, drivers caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.05 to 0.08 (known as the “warn range”), will have their licence immediately suspended for three days for a first occurrence, seven days for a second occurrence and 30 days for a third or subsequent occurrence.