South Simcoe Police Acting Sgt. Steve Black demonstrates the use of a new compact Roadside Screening Device during a daytime Festive Season R.I.D.E. check in Bradford West Gwillimbury. On Jan. 19, Sgt. Lew DaSilva provided an update to the Police Services Board - and a warning, that some drivers aren't getting the "Don't Drink and Drive" message

Sgt. Lew DaSilva, head of the South Simcoe Police Traffic & Marine Unit, provided an overview of the R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) Program that targets drinking drivers, in a special Police Services Board presentation on January 19.

The program, founded in 1977 in Etobicoke – where it was “Reduce Impaired Driving in Etobicoke” – is now part of a province-wide strategy to remove drinking drivers from Ontario roads, before they become involved in a collision, causing injury or death.

“Everyone knows what a R.I.D.E. Program is. It’s very effective,” said Sgt. DaSilva, but he also issued a warning: despite the publicity, public education, and increasingly stiff penalties for those who drink and drive, not everyone is getting the message.

There are those who “make mistakes,” and get behind the wheel thinking that they can handle the effects of alcohol, or at least avoid getting pulled over in a R.I.D.E. checkpoint; “The problem is, they’re rolling the dice.”

And then there are those who “always drink and drive... They don’t care.”

Provincial legislation makes it illegal for anyone to have the “care and control” of a vehicle – motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, railway equipment, whether in motion or not – when their faculties are impaired by alcohol or drugs. It is also illegal to have more than 80 mg. of alcohol per 100 mL of blood, even if there are no signs of impairment.

And while no charges result from a blood alcohol concentration of between .05 and .08, registering in the “Warn” range will lead to a suspension of driving privileges – 3 days for a first offence, 7 days for a second, and 30 days for a third charge in 5 years. And there are other penalties. Unless there is a licensed driver “who is sober” on hand, the driver’s vehicle will be impounded. And it costs $150 to have a licence reinstated, after a suspension.

Year over year, there has been a decline in the number of Impaired and Over .080 charges laid in South Simcoe, and a slight decrease in the number of Warn Range suspensions. The problem, DaSilva said, is that the numbers are actually up during R.I.D.E. Programs, especially during the Festive Season, December through New Year’s.

In 2013, the Festive Season Program stopped 7,610 vehicles and issued 10 Impaired charges, 7 drug charges, and requested 283 roadside tests resulting in 27 Warn Range suspensions.

In 2014, with a strategy of setting up checkpoints at both highly visible locations and on the back roads, only 6,517 vehicles were stopped – down by over 1,000 – but Impaired charges rose to 16, Drug charges to 13, and 208 roadside tests resulted in 40 Warn Range suspensions.

As for those year-over-year declines, DaSilva said, “If I could run the program every year the way I run the Festive R.I.D.E., you’d see the numbers change” - and go up.

The R.I.D.E. Program does continue year-round, but not at the same level. Other charges come from routine traffic stops, and from the calls of concerned citizens, reporting suspected Impaired drivers.

“We’re finding that more and more people are calling in Impaired drivers,” said Chief Rick Beazley, through the “Safe Roads... Your Call” campaign. “When you suspect an impaired driver on the road, you’re preventing a criminal offence by calling in,” and calling 911.

Board Vice Chair Rod Hicks thanked the officers and auxiliaries for their efforts. “We’re still shocked that almost every day, we see someone driving Over .080.”

Source: Bradford Times

Last updated on: 2015-01-23 | Link to this post