The Christmas season is upon us and with it the start of the OPP’s annual RIDE campaign.

Each year, as police implore us to use our heads and not drive while impaired by alcohol, drugs, texting, fatigue, etc., hundreds are charged for precisely those crimes.

In 2013, OPP officers charged 693 drivers for having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08 (or over 80 milligrams) during the five-and-a-half week campaign. Officers also issued 625 warn range suspensions to motorists caught with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08 (or between 50 and 80 milligrams).

So far this year, there were fewer drunk driving charges filed up to the end of September compared to 2013, but the number of drug-impaired driving offences has jumped 32 per cent.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports 1,250 to 1,500 people are killed on Canadian roads every year due to impaired driving.

It’s clear that despite years of RIDE checks, public-information campaigns and escalating penalties, this is a problem that’s not going away.

If only everyone intent on getting behind the wheel after having a few could have been in the room during last week’s Barrie and South Simcoe RIDE campaign kickoff, when Noel Ward told a group of high school students how his older sister, Kirsta, was killed in 2008.

She was a passenger in a pick-up when the driver rolled the vehicle. The driver was later charged with drunk driving and criminal negligence.

Noel was in Grade 10 at the time.

“She was my best friend and the person I looked up to,” Ward said. “It had happened at 3 a.m. and she bled to death in a cornfield all alone. Christmas has never been the same and it’s hard on her birthday and the (anniversary) of the crash.”

Perhaps for some, RIDE is an irritant, but for others it is a reminder of how impaired driving can have tragic, life-altering consequences.

If you are planning to drink this holiday season, be sure to have a designated driver or call a taxi.


Last updated on: 2014-12-18 | Link to this post