OPP file image.

Police in Blind River are reporting a shocking increase in the number of impaired driving cases they are dealing with compared to the same period in 2019.

In a news release Friday, the East Algoma detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police said calls are up by 125 per cent compared with June of last year.

Almost 90 per cent of calls were reported by the public, totalling nine impaired cases in the last month.

"While the East Algoma OPP are disappointed in the increase of impaired cases, we'd like to thank the public for taking impaired driving seriously and reporting it to the police," police said in a news release.

During the same time period in 2019, police in the region had taken four impaired drivers off the highways, while the number in 2018 and 2017 was just three.

"Impaired driving is one of the four major causal factors of fatal and personal injury collisions and is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada," said Insp. Tyler Sturgeon, commander of the East Algoma detachment. "I'd like to thank the public for being diligent in reporting suspected impaired drivers and doing their part to make Ontario's roads, trails and waterways safer for everyone.

"Remember, impaired driving is a serious crime that includes the operation of not only cars and trucks, but also off-road vehicles and boats. Treat impaired driving like the crime that it is and report it by calling 911."

Alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired drivers and any drivers who fail or refuses to submit tests under the Criminal Code can expect to pay hefty legal fees, the release said.

Legal costs will run between $2,000-$10,000, Criminal Code fees another $1,000-$5,000, more than $800 in other fees, as much as $5,000 in increased annual insurance premiums. All totalled, a conviction can cost a driver up to $30,000.

"The East Algoma Detachment OPP are asking you to plan ahead," police said. "Alcohol and drug impaired driving affects your reaction time, concentration, peripheral vision, coordination and depth perception. Take a cab or arrange for a designated driver."

The OPP reminds motorists that no amount of alcohol or drug is safe to consume when operating a motor vehicle. Should you observe an impaired driver, please dial 911 or contact the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122.