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If you had a drink, don’t drive - RIDE officers are out very night during the holidays

TORONTO - There’s a long line up of cars at the intersection of Kingston Road and Chine Drive as police officers stop cars and for Holiday RIDE checks.

The RIDE program, which stands for Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, happens year round, but is ramped up during November and December when holiday parties are in full swing.

Officers create a check point and screen for anyone who may be driving under the influence of alcohol.

TOP PHOTO: Constable William Niziol leans in to speak to the driver of a car going southbound on Yonge Street during a RIDE stop check.

The festive RIDE spot checks were launched on November 19, 2015 and go on till the first week of January where officers are out every night enforcing impaired driving laws.

“The purpose is to keep the roads safe for everybody and stop impaired drivers from operating motor vehicles,” says Constable Clinton Stibbe of Traffic Services.

A RIDE check usually begins with officers setting up check points and creating RIDE lanes, where they screen everyone, and will ask a driver to pull into the lane if they believe the driver needs to undergo a roadside breath test. It is a criminal offence to operate a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit of: 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. This legal limit is sometimes referred to as Over 80.

The road side test will give a response of “pass, warn and fail.”

A pass means the person is safe to drive away, while a warning can lead to an immediate license suspension from three, seven or 30 days depending on the driver’s previous suspensions.

A fail means a person has more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in their system and can lead to charges of over 80 mgs operation, says Stibbe.

If the roadside test gives a fail indication, the driver is taken into the RIDE truck which is a Mobile Breath Alcohol Testing Unit, where an officer who is also a breath technician, will use a breath alcohol instrument to get an exact blood alcohol level.

Constable Gerald Uchman at a RIDE check near Yonge Street and the 401

“We get a lot of people who come in to do these tests and they feel like they’re okay to drive, but they’re not…  and it’s dangerous to be driving a car at that level. It’s very dangerous for them and it’s very dangerous for other people using the road,” says Constable Steven Aguiar, an Alcohol Breath Technician during RIDE checks.

During last year’s Holiday RIDE program, Traffic Services officers alone stopped almost 15,000 drivers and arrested 78 for driving over the limit.

“Impairment begins with your first drink because everyone metabolizes alcohol differently,” explains Aguiar, recommending drivers abstain from alcohol completely.

Up until November 17, 2015, 1,100 people were charged for impaired driving-related offences this year and out of the total of 55 fatal collisions, five involved drivers who were impaired while operating a motor vehicle.

“We need to protect the public, but we also have to work with the public to make the roads safer and the RIDE program helps us to achieve those goals,” says Stibbe.

Written by Sara Faruqi; Content in partnership with Toronto Police Services.

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