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RIDE is working

Margaret Sheridan | Interrobang | News | February 11th, 2008

London area RIDE programs growth led to fewer charges in 2007
London Police increased the number of RIDE programs in 2007, but laid fewer charges than the previous year.

Over 23,000 cars were pulled over in 2007 as part of the LPS's Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) program, which was a 139 per cent increase from 2006. The higher number of stops is a result of an increased number of evenings the program was set up in the city.

“It's partially funded by government money,” said Sgt. Tom O'Brien. “It allows police to direct their efforts uninterrupted by other policing efforts towards checking the sobriety of the drivers on the roads. What I mean by that is with the money given to us by the government we can hire police officers who are normally off duty to come in to do that specifically.”

As opposed to setting up check points with on-duty officers and hoping that a separate disturbance call doesn't pull the team away from the program.

The funding this year has allowed the off-duty officers to hit the streets on 67 occasions, both days and nights. Despite the fact that fewer motorists were charged with impaired driving, O'Brien isn't about to call the program an unprecedented success.

“I'm not about to jump on the bandwagon and say that everyone is getting the message and impaired driving is going down,” O'Brien stressed. “I think there's enough evidence out there to suggest that there is still a huge problem with impaired driving. If we had more officers that did nothing but drive around looking for impaired drivers - we'd find them.”

Some numbers that jump out of the recent RIDE report include:

- 88 per cent of all charges were against male drivers.

- 411 roadside tests were administered.

- There were 11 sobriety test failures resulting in charges.

- 62 drivers were warned and had their licenses suspended for 12 hours.

- None of the six London traffic fatalities in 2007 involved an impaired driver.

“I don't want to catch an impaired driver with the program,” continued O'Brien. “I want (RIDE) to be highly visible so that motorists driving to their destination at 10 o'clock in the evening, when they're heading to the bars, see that the police are out there in full force attempting to catch impaired drivers.

“So I want it to be an educational and an awareness program.”
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