ORILLIA, ON, Jan. 4 /CNW/ - Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers were highly visible this holiday season as they checked over 1,099,021 vehicles on OPP patrolled roadways during this year's Festive R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) initiative. 

This year's initiative was conducted from November 26 through to January 2, 2011 and OPP officers were busier than ever tracking down impaired drivers 7 days a week / 24 hours a day, right across the province. 

The OPP charged 294 people with impaired driving, over .08 BAC or for refusal to comply with a demand to provide a breath sample.  An additional 5,011 charges were for other Criminal Code, Highway Traffic Act, or Liquor Licence Act offences.

During the campaign, officers issued 256 administrative driver's licence suspensions (ADLS) for criminal code related drinking and driving offences.  They also issued 605 ADL suspensions for a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in the "warn range".  

In comparison, during the 2009 Festive R.I.D.E. initiative, officers checked 1,199,280 vehicles, resulting in 299 persons being charged with criminal code alcohol-related offences.  The OPP also laid a total of 5,195 charges for other Criminal Code, highway Traffic Act or Liquor Licence Act offences.  Additionally, 746 warn range suspensions were issued during last year's campaign.  

"Our high visibility during the 2010 Festive R.I.D.E. campaign demonstrates how relentless we are in our efforts to keep impaired drivers from taking innocent lives and causing serious injuries on our roads," said OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis.  "I am extremely proud of our members who worked around the clock to keep Ontarians safe as they travelled our roads and arrived at their destinations to enjoy the holiday season," added Lewis.    

Impaired driving continues to be a major factor in deaths on Ontario's roads. Preliminary statistics indicate that during 2010, a total of 330 persons lost their lives on roads patrolled by the OPP. Of those, 68 deaths were alcohol-related, an increase of 17 alcohol-related deaths from 2009.

"While this year's Festive R.I.D.E. program is over, driving impaired continues to be an issue.  The OPP is committed to reducing the tragic loss of life on our roads and will be conducting regular R.I.D.E. programs all year long to reinforce this important message," said OPP Deputy Commissioner Larry Beechey, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety & Operational Support.   

For more information about the OPP Festive R.I.D.E. campaign, go to:

To learn more about impaired driving laws, go to: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/impaired/index.shtml

SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police

For further information:

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Sergeant Dave Woodford   
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Constable Peter Robertson  
Inspector Mark Andrews         
Sergeant Shelley Garr  
Sergeant Dave Rektor                    
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