How many drivers will be charged this year?

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The Ride Program has been active year round; however with the holiday season upon us, the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service has launched the 2015 Festive Season R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) Program.

Chief Bob Keetch is committed to getting impaired drivers off the roads in the City of Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding area. This year’s program, partly funded by a provincial grant from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, will include regular uniform patrol officers along with extra duty officers from the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service.

During the 2014 Festive campaign, 10 drivers were charged with impaired driving offences and 5 were issued 3 day driving suspensions for registering WARN on a roadside screening device. Chief Keetch believes “even one impaired driver risking innocent lives during the holiday season is unacceptable.”

The tragedy of drivers making the wrong decision by drinking and driving has affected many families. This year’s Festive RIDE campaign will be in honour of Christa (Lukenda) Michaud. Christa was struck and killed in August of 2013, at the intersection of McNabb St and Algoma Ave while riding her bicycle. The impaired driver that struck her was found to be doing twice the posted speed limit with a blood alcohol concentration that was 2 ½ times the legal limit.

In a further proactive effort to reduce impaired drivers on our roadways, the Sault Ste Marie Police Service will be partnering with officers from the Ontario Provincial Police Highway Safety Division, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to conduct joint roadside checks throughout the city and surrounding area. These checks will take place at all times of day and night throughout the city and Prince Township.

Report impaired driving to the police. One of the best resources the Police have in combating drinking and driving is the public. If you see a driver who you believe may be driving while his ability is impaired, call 911. The HTA allows drivers who are calling Police, Fire or Ambulance to use their cell phone while driving.

Drivers are also reminded of the punishment for drinking and driving offences. Once charged with Excess Blood Alcohol or Refusing a Breath Test, a motorist is subject to an immediate 90-day drivers licence suspension and 7 day vehicle impoundment. On being convicted, drivers will face suspensions, heavy fines, vehicle impoundments, mandatory alcohol education and treatment programs, and the ignition interlock program. Depending on your number of prior convictions, you may be fined up to $50,000, serve time in jail and lose your licence permanently. Also keep in mind that the names of the offenders will be published in the local media during the RIDE Program.

There are still too many drivers making the bad decision to drink and drive and/or using drugs when driving, with tragic consequences. This holiday season, don’t be one of them. If you choose to drink, don’t drive. If you spot a driver you suspect is impaired, call 911 immediately.