Orillia, Ontario – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have wrapped up their Festive R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) initiative, with 1,174,224 vehicles checked on OPP-patrolled roadways from November 27 to January 4.

Officers issued 432 licence suspensions for criminal code-related drinking and driving offences, and a further 709 suspensions for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the range of .05 to .08. A total of 5,329 charges were laid as a result of this year’s program, with 298 for impaired driving, over .08 BAC, or for refusal to comply with a demand to provide a breath sample. The remaining charges were for other Criminal Code, Highway Traffic Act, or Liquor Licence Act offences.

In comparison, during the 2008 Festive R.I.D.E. program, officers checked 884,729 vehicles, made 319 arrests for criminal code alcohol-related offences, and issued 1,137 licence suspensions.

New to this year’s program was Ontario legislation, introduced in May 2009, which increased driver’s licence suspension periods for drivers with a BAC between .05 and .08. This was previously considered the “warn range,” but now subjects drivers to a licence suspension which graduates from a minimum three to seven, and then 30 days, for that level of BAC.

“While it appears that the message is slowly getting across to drivers, there are still people who think they are sober enough to drive when they aren’t,” said OPP commissioner Julian Fantino. “The only truly safe level of alcohol consumption for drivers is none.”

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