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'Festive' RIDE campaign targets impaired drivers during holiday season

The annual enhanced RIDE campaign is underway in York Region, following a launch event last night in Newmarket at the site of an impaired driving incident
Nov. 21, 2022
Debora Kelly

The annual enhanced RIDE campaign is underway in York Region, following a launch event last night in Newmarket at the site of a serious impaired driving incident.

York Regional Police released a video "as an example of a very dangerous situation on our roads," in conjunction with the kickoff of the Festive Season Enhanced RIDE campaign in the force's continued commitment to fight impaired driving.

Throughout the holiday season, York Regional Police will have an increased presence on the roads, watching for impaired drivers and conducting RIDE spot checks.

Justine Ellis, whose husband died five years ago five years ago in a collision with a drunk driver, spoke at the launch event as a representative of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) York Region.

While the loss of her husband, Stuart, still cause her pain, Ellis said she shares her story in hopes that she is helping to save lives.

Pregnant with her second son, Coby, at the time her husband was killed, the single mother's boys are now aged six and four.

The video highlights the incident that began with a call to 911 from a concerned citizen on July 23, 2019, who reported that a vehicle was all over the road with its muffler dragging after repeatedly colliding with the curb.

At the same time that the call was made, an officer conducting stop sign enforcement observed the vehicle going through the intersection without stopping near Bayview Avenue and Brooker Ridge Road, police said.

"The officer quickly formed grounds to arrest the driver for impaired driving," police added.

The driver was later convicted in court and received a fine and one-year driving prohibition, police said.

YRP is asking citizens to partner with them -- "one of the greatest tools we have in improving road safety" -- by calling 911 if they suspect a driver is impaired.

"We consider these incidents a life-threatening crime in progress and will continue to respond to these calls," police said.

More than 5,000 people call 911 to report impaired driving each year, which may not only have prevented serious collisions from occurring, but also led to thousands of impaired-related criminal charges being laid over the years.

"These 911 calls have come in to us from many different sources, from other motorists, pedestrians, drive-thru employees, gas station attendants, liquor store employees, neighbours, to family and friends calling in to prevent potentially devastating situations. These calls save lives."

Citizens are reminded, if you drink alcohol or use drugs, find an alternate means of transportation.