Everyone in Ontario should know about the Festive RIDE program by now. Also known as Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, it kicks off during the busy holiday season when the highest amount of drunk drivers hit the roads. This year the police involved have a bit extra on their plate, because they’re focusing on stopping both alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired driving.
Festive RIDE officers can arrest drugged drivers this holiday season thanks to Ontario changing their impaired driving laws this past October. Now drugged drivers receive the same penalties for drug-impaired driving as they’d receive if they were stopped for drunk driving.
If you’re stopped now and police arrest you for driving under the influence of drugs you’ll receive a $180 fine, driver’s license suspension of three days, and after further testing at the police station, a ninety day license suspension and vehicle impound for one week. Drugged drivers may also be required to drive with an ignition interlock, just like drunk drivers in Ontario.
Festive RIDE has been a busy program for Ontario police, even in smaller areas of Ontario, with one small town (Petawawa) running through 143 RIDE spot checks and 4,300 drivers during the holiday season last year. Because of these spot checks, most people understand that drunk driving will get them in trouble during the holidays, but this is the first year people will realize that drugged driving will land them in the same pot of hot water.
Festive RIDE has been extremely successful in taking impaired drivers off the roads, and they’d also like the Ontario public to help them with their program this year. They’ve asked that if anyone spots a drunk or drug-impaired driver to call 911 or Crimestoppers and report them. Even if that person has only had one or two drinks or you’re not 100% positive someone you’ve seen leave a parking lot or party is under the influence, pick up the phone and contact police. With so many drivers on the roads this holiday, that one phone call could save a life.