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Festive R.I.D.E. blitz begins

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Police know the approaching holiday season brings an increase in the number of alcohol-impaired drivers on Ontario roadways.

This means there likely is to be more tragedy on our roads in the days ahead.

The OPP is setting up traffic stops around the province—and around the clock—as it kicks off the 2015 Festive R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) campaign.

This highly-effective public safety initiative will run throughout the holiday period until Jan. 2.

From January to October, the number of alcohol-involved occurrences is up three percent over the same period last year.

As of Nov. 15, of the 258 persons killed during that time period, 35 were attributed to alcohol consumption.

Thirteen people died when their off-road vehicle was involved in a collision; six of those persons had been impaired by alcohol.

Police also have seen the number of occurrences of drug-impaired driving rise in Ontario over the past year.

Police are reminding the public during this Festive R.I.D.E. campaign that the OPP now have drug recognition officers with specialized training to identify drug-impaired drivers.

The OPP also has a significant number of officers who conduct standardized field sobriety tests on drivers who give police a reasonable suspicion of impairment by drugs.

“So far this year, the OPP [has] laid over 6,800 alcohol- and drug-impaired driving charges,” said Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair.

“This is an unbelievable statistic,” he noted. “There are many ways to get home after a party.

“Don’t drink or do drugs and drive, it’s just not worth it,” stressed Blair.

“I encourage everyone to have a plan to get home before they get behind the wheel this holiday season.”

Blair pledged that OPP officers will be vigilant about stopping vehicles and finding drivers who are impaired by any means.

Last year, the OPP charged 593 people with impaired-related charges during the Festive R.I.D.E. initiative.

There also were 485 people who had their licences suspended following a warning.

Police also are asking the public to call authorities if you see someone who gets behind the wheel after they have been drinking.

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