Alcohol, keys and police handcuffs depicting drinking and driving.  © Can Stock Photo / jirkaejcAlcohol, keys and police handcuffs depicting drinking and driving. © Can Stock Photo / jirkaejc

OPP ponder mysterious 51 per cent increase in impaired driving charges

The Ontario Provincial Police isn't sure if it is just a blip or a sign of something more sinister.

Essex County is the fourth worst region in Ontario for the number of impaired driving charges. The Toronto region had the most, followed by Port Credit and Red Lake.

Constable Steven Duguay said charges increased from 213 at the end of November 2022 to 321 during the same period this year, a 51 per cent increase.

He said 79 per cent of those charges were against men.

The OPP stepped up R.I.D.E. stops in the county, especially during the Festive R.I.D.E. campaign, but Duguay said the charges didn't come from there.

"We've had a couple of three-day license suspensions for drivers who've blown in the warn range," he said. "But, for the most part, they're from collisions, or stopped by officers on patrol, or by members of the public calling in traffic complaints."

There were 736 R.I.D.E. checks by the end of last month. Last year, there were 490.

Almost a third of the drivers facing charges province-wide are between 25 and 34, further adding to the mystery.

"We used to have programs in high schools, Students Against Drunk Driving. MADD would do presentations in high schools," said Duguay. "So, this segment of the population has been immersed in knowledge about the dangers and repercussions of impaired driving."

The Festive R.I.D.E. campaign started on November 16 and ends on January 1, 2024.

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