Just say “no” to drinking and driving

Christmas parties, New Years’ parties, and just good ‘old season celebrations will see many folks tipping the glass up over and over again in the coming days. But be wary if you’re planning on driving home afterwards.

55 Division Traffic Sergeant Doodnath Churkoo warns that it is “important to remember to designate a non-drinking driver before the celebration begins and be absolutely sure that your guests do not operate a motor vehicle if they have consumed alcoholic beverages.”

He warns that there will be regular R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) spot checks throughout the division to ensure everyone gets home safe.

Churkoo has been setting up daily checks since Dec. 1.

The first day saw a 38-year-old male get arrested and charged with a multitude of offences including impaired driving. The suspect already had eight separate court-ordered prohibit drives under the criminal code, and had his license automatically suspended for 45 days.

On Dec. 6 another driver attempted to avoid the spot check on Eastern Avenue but was quickly caught by the officers. He was found to be driving with more than twice the legal blood alcohol level. He was charged with impaired and had his car impounded for seven days.

An impaired charge, or driving with over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood (0.08), carries an automatic 90 day driver’s licence suspension. If convicted in court, an additional one year suspension will be given. After that, the driver’s vehicle must be installed with an ignition interlock for one year.

Drivers who register in the “warn range” or blowing 0.05 – 0.08 will be issued 3-day suspension for the first offence.

55 Division statistics indicate that number of impaired charges have increased slightly this year. But that is not an indication of more drunk drivers on the road.

“I believe we have less drivers driving impaired due to education and awareness programs. The increase in charges comes from the fact that we have more trained officers on the road,” said Churkoo.

There are now five officers in 55 Division trained in administering a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Churkoo plans to train three more in the near future.

SFST experts are capable of detecting impairment due to alcohol and/or drugs by looking for physical signs.

Police Constable John Powrie, an SFST expert and truck inspection expert, says he’s surprised at the number of G1 and G2 license violations.

“There’s been an increase in these and it shocks me,” said Powrie. G1 and G2 licensed drivers must have zero alcohol in their blood if driving.

For information on legal blood alcohol levels and penalties in Ontario, visit http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/impaired/fact-sheet.shtml

For more information on 55 Division you may visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TPS55 or follow Sgt. Churkoo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SgtChurkoo.

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