Impaired driving increases during holidays

Toronto's RIDEcheck program visited Humber's North campus Thursday. (Photo: Twitter @OPP_HSD) Toronto's RIDEcheck program visited Humber's North campus Thursday. (Photo: Twitter @OPP_HSD)

Laura Dart
News Reporter

As the holiday season is approaches, RIDE is out there to ensure everyone makes it home safely.

Or catch those who are risking the lives of motorists by drinking and driving.

Impaired driving is an everyday concern for drivers. When someone makes a decision to drive impaired it puts everyone’s life in danger. For students it is important that they make sure their friends are safe and avoid impaired driving.

“I make sure I am not in the situation where impaired driving could occur by planning my night out in advance,” said Genevieve Kovacs, 20, a third year Early Childhood Education student.

“I usually take public transit, a cab or get a ride from family when I can. I always encourage my friends to do the same or offer rides when I can via my mom or dad,” she said.

Impaired driving killed five people in the 55 fatal crashes in Toronto as of Nov. 17, police said. Within the same time period, police charged 1,151 people with impaired driving related offences, police said.

The legal definition of impaired driving is having more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood and is considered a criminal offence. There is a warn range of between 50 milligrams and 80 milligrams where police can temporarily seize the vehicle or prevent the motorist from driving under provincial legislation.

At Humber a competition ran from Oct. 5 until Nov. 6 with RIDE to make a 60-second video about the impacts of impaired driving. The winner Melissa Andrea Coreas was announced during Thursday’s RIDE check event at Humber’s North campus, taking home $2,000 for her video.

The competition and event were meant to education people about how to avoid “impairing your holiday spirit.” Impaired driving during the holiday season can mean loved ones not making it home safely which is what Toronto Police were trying to get people to avoid making those mistakes.

Sgt. Kathy Vellend-Taylor, who has worked for Toronto Police for 30 years, believes it has become legally more complicated to get an impaired driving conviction.

“Years ago they (the courts) took our evidence on our description of impairment and then of course they took the breath analyzers numbers on how they blew in the breath analyzing test,” she said.

Now the rules of evidence have become more.demanding.

“There’s more respect for drinking and driving in the criminal law, though it’s gotten a lot tougher on police officers,” said Sgt. Vellend-Taylor.

“We have to record every time for every conversation, from when we walk to the car, the time when we put them (suspects) in the car, the time we read him his rights, the time when we left. It’s super micromanaging or nitpicking,” she said.

The holiday season may seem like more impaired driving occurs because of all the holiday parties that usually include alcohol.

“[Impaired driving during the holidays] may be higher due to the fact there’s more enforcement during the holiday period,” said Const. Dave Taylor of 51 Division. “Impaired driving convictions and their effects on convicted parties are severe. People lose jobs when convicted and the average court costs are $20,000.

“Conviction can in most cases be life altering,” he said.

For information about how to enter a new contest to win free gas for a year, visit www.ridechecks.com.

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