More than 2,000 vehicles checked during 2020 Festive RIDE program

·2 min read

THUNDER BAY — Thunder Bay Police Service have released the results of the 2020 Festive RIDE program.

From Dec. 2 to Jan. 1, police checked more than 2,000 cars and laid 12 charges related to impaired driving, Cst. Mark Cattani said during a virtual news conference on Friday, Jan. 8.

Police say this number is down from the 27 total charges reported during the 2019 program.

However, police say several factors impacted this year’s results including the drop in traffic on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the drop, police say 2020 set a record for the total number of impaired driving incidents reported in a single year.

Overall, 2020 saw nearly 300 drivers charged with impaired offences. In 2019, 204 charges were reported.

In the last five years, police have seen a gradual increase in impaired driving charges, Cattani said.

“Each year has surpassed the previous year for the total number of individuals who have been charged,” he said.

During Friday’s news conference, police also stated there has been a “gigantic” increase in drug-impaired driving charges while cases of motorists impaired by alcohol have remained nearly the same.

Nearly half of the 299 total impaired driving incidents were drug-related in 2020 alone. In 2019, police reported 47 motorists charged with impaired by drug.

Of the 144 impaired by drug charges laid, 31 were linked to cannabis and 73 were linked to the use of cocaine, crack cocaine or methamphetamine.

Also in 2020, police began reporting the names of individuals charged with impaired driving offences during the RIDE program and plan to continue publishing names throughout 2021.

It’s too soon to tell if the naming initiative alone conclusively had an impact on impaired driving charges but police say they see the value for the initiative to continue, Cattani said.

Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source