Blue Line

Festive RIDE initiative launched

November 23, 2021  By Canadian Press / Local Journalism Initiative

Nov. 22, 2021, North Bay, Ont. – Another holiday season approaches, and police are reminding residents they have their eyes peeled for intoxicated drivers.

Drinking and drugging do not mix with driving. The message is clear, and the OPP are reminding people of this fact as they launch the Joint Forces Festive RIDE check-stops.

They kicked off the first one yesterday at the intersection of Highway 654 and Highway 94 just outside of Callander. Known as Wasi Corners to those in the know, the area was awash with red and white police lights during the afternoon.

Cruisers filled the area, and police were stopping cars from all directions, checking for intoxication, making sure everyone was able to continue driving safely.

The stops began at 1pm and before a half-hour passed, one driver had been pulled to the side for questioning.

The North Bay Detachment of the OPP was there, as was the North Bay Police. Also present was a member of the military police, so drivers certainly took notice.

The Festive RIDE program is now in full effect and runs until January 2, 2022.

“We can be out here anytime,” Sergeant Ray St. Pierre said, “and we are here throughout the year, but the festive season is very important for us as there are more people celebrating and gathering together.”

“We can ask drivers operating a motor vehicle to provide samples of their breath anytime we have a vehicle pulled over,” he added.

“We have the authority to make that demand,” St. Pierre said, “and we have officers that are trained to recognize those signs of impairment.”

Sergeant St. Pierre also emphasized the public “play an important role” in keeping the roads safe by both “deterring and reporting impaired drivers” to police.

Province-wide, the OPP receive on average over 21,000 calls annually “regarding potentially impaired drivers,” he said. Throughout 2021, the OPP have issued “8,000 alcohol or drug impaired driving charges.”

“And officers have conducted 6,700 RIDE initiatives where 611 drivers have been charged with either alcohol or drug related offences.”

Sergeant St. Pierre noted that “people are taking the chance that the police aren’t everywhere, but we could be anywhere,” adding that the main message he would like to convey is that “zero per cent alcohol behind the wheel is the acceptable number.”

“There are too many deaths associated with impaired driving,” and with initiatives like the Festive RIDE campaign, St. Pierre hopes to prevent more fatalities.

“That’s why we’re here, and that’s why we’re going to be on the roads all year long.”

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