Police, MADD remind Windsorites not to drive after drinking amid uptick in charges this year

·2 min read
Windsor police are monitoring the city's roadways for impaired drivers this holiday season. (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)
Windsor police are monitoring the city's roadways for impaired drivers this holiday season. (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)

With the holidays underway, OPP and MADD are reminding Windsor-Essex residents not to get behind the wheel if they've impaired.

"Driving impaired, either by alcohol or drugs or a combination of both, remains the leading cause of death and injury in Canada," said Const. Darius Goze of the Windsor Police Service.

"During the holiday season, when we traditionally see an increase in impaired driving charges ... our officers are out on a day-to-day basis making sure that they are monitoring our roadways, and to catch and deter impaired drivers and to make sure that our public is safe, which is which is our number one priority."

Windsor police said over the first 10 months of 2021, they laid 260 impaired driving-related charges.

That's about 12 per cent higher than the same period in 2020; that year saw a total of 294 charges laid.

That was up from 2019, when police charged 281 people with an impaired-driving related offence.

"Impaired driving is a very serious, serious offence and with serious consequences," Goze said. "The immediate driver's license suspension to your vehicle being impounded, serious fines and penalties. Criminal record and and jail time, depending on the severity of the offence."

Essex County OPP, meanwhile, said they've seen an increase in impaired driving offences during the pandemic.

Between mid-March 2020 and mid-December 2021, 246 people were charged with an impaired driving offence.

The previous 21 months — mid-June 2018 to mid-March 2020 — saw 212 impaired drivers charged.

MADD Red Ribbon campaign underway

Chaouki Hamka, community leader for MADD Windsor-Essex, said the reason for the rise in impaired driving over the last while isn't clear.

But, he said, how courts handle the cases isn't helping.

"Impaired drivers are getting a slap on the wrist," he said. "They're not held accountable for their actions. They're not held accountable for the crime they're committing. Impaired driving needs to be ... taken seriously.:

"It's a devastating criminal offence," Hamka said. "Lots of innocent people are being killed and/or injured."

"We're way behind other countries in terms of how we deal with it."

Hamka said MADD is again running its annual Red Ribbon campaign, which is intended to promote sober driving throughout the holiday season.

"We encourage the public to make safe and responsible choices by never driving impaired or riding with an impaired driver," he said. "Always planning ahead if you want to be drinking or consuming cannabis or other drugs."

"Call ... Uber or a cab or any designated driver public transportation, or stay the night," Hamka said. "There's many ways to keep safe."

Goze said anyone who sees a suspected impaired driver on the road should call 911.

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