OPP charge more than 500 drivers during holiday RIDE campaign

Provincial police say 539 drivers were charged with impaired driving during this season's Festive RIDE campaign.

Officials say the RIDE stops also issued warn range suspensions to an additional 384 drivers.

This holiday season the annual crackdown on alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers ran from Nov. 23, 2018 to Jan. 2, 2019.

In total, 10,270 stops were done across the province, the first time the OPP have exceeded the 10,000 mark.

In a statement, Interim OPP Commissioner Gary Couture said, "Whether drivers were charged with alcohol-impaired driving, drug-impaired driving or issued warn range suspensions, the bottom line is that our officers took close to 923 impaired drivers off our roads and eliminated the threat they posed to those who were sharing the road with them that day."

Sadly, the numbers do not indicate any significant decrease in the number impaired drivers on Ontario roads from the previous campaign.

During the last Festive RIDE initiative, 587 drivers were charged and 366 warn range suspensions were issued during the course of 9,830 stops.

That marks a decrease in charges of less than nine per cent, and an increase in warn range suspensions of about five per cent.

The OPP's West Region, which stretches from Essex County to Norfolk County and north to the Bruce Peninsula, accounted for 145 of the drivers charged.

Of those, 135 were charged with being impaired by alcohol or refusing to give a sample, while 10 were charged with being impaired by drug or refusing to give a sample.

Of the 384 drivers who registered a warning across the OPP's six coverage areas, 110 were in the West Region.

Officials report there were also 42 alcohol- or drug-related road deaths on OPP-patrolled roads in 2018.