Holiday drunk driving at highest level in eight years say RIDE cops

Drunk driving during the holidays is at its highest in eight years, say provincial police.

OPP officers charged 693 people with having a blood alcohol concentration level over .08.

In addition, 625 “warn range” suspensions were issued to motorists caught driving with between .05 and .08.

“We had hoped to see these numbers decrease significantly during this year’s campaign, in light of how much harder we have worked to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving,” OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis said.

The Festive R.I.D.E. campaign ran from Nov. 24 until Wednesday.

Motorists who blow over .08, or who decline a breathalyzer, immediately have their vehicles impounded for seven days.

Drivers in the “warn range” lose their licence at roadside for three, seven, or 30 days.

Consequences get tougher for repeat occurrences and driving-related Criminal Code convictions remain on a motorist’s record for at least 10 years, according to the transportation ministry.

Impaired driving continues to be the leading cause of criminal death in Canada, said Lewis, “and it is disappointing that we still have Ontario drivers who feel entitled to place other road users at risk of losing their lives to an impaired driver.”

Last year, 682 motorists were charged with impaired driving while 583 were issued “warn range” suspensions.

There’s no excuse for the rise, said cops.

But some boozy revellers planned ahead.

Operation Red Nose Ottawa closed out its annual operation, raising $10,882.68 for the Boys and Girls Club.

The campaign against drunk driving is run by volunteers during Christmas, offering free rides home for partygoers.

Its most successful night to date was New Year’s Eve, when 79 volunteers completed 66 rides serving 146 residents. More than $1,800 was donated.

In its second year in Bytown, the operation ran for 10 nights, down slightly from December 2011.

“Comparing the results to the inaugural 2011 season, the desired goal for an increased use of service was met and were it not for unfortunate weather conditions, service would have broken all previous set records,” reads a statement released Thursday.

Almost 600 people volunteered, answering 395 calls serving 762 residents, cruising 17,963 km.

Goals for 2013 include raising $14,000, increasing volunteers to 800, and answering 600 calls serving 1,000 residents.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/01/03/holiday-drunk-driving-at-highest-level-in-eight-years-say-ride-cops

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