York Regional Police have released dramatic helicopter video that appears to show an alcohol-impaired driver, who officers say had a blood alcohol level almost four times over the legal limit, weaving across a road in Markham.
In a statement released Wednesday outlining 2017 statistics on impaired driving, police said they received a call from a resident who reported seeing a vehicle swerving on Elgin Mills Road between McCowan Road and Ninth Line Thursday afternoon.
Air 2, York Regional Police’s helicopter unit, was dispatched and relayed the car’s movements to officers on the ground. After officers stopped the vehicle, a 39-year-old Whitchurch-Stouffville man was arrested. Police said he was taken to a police station and given a breathalyzer test. Officers said he blew almost four times over the limit.
Police called the incident “disturbing” and said it is one of the 1,249 cases of impaired driving officers responded to in 2017. The number of incidents is a slight decrease from 2016, when there were 1,271 impaired driving cases over that year.
Const. Laura Nicolle told Global News that even though the number of incidents is down slightly, the number of associated charges increased slightly. She said the elevated numbers of cases is concerning, adding in 2013 there were 868 incidents.
“In 2013 it was fairly low, but from there it has been going up and up and sort of staying in the same place, which is really just a shock,” Nicolle said.
Police said 82 per cent of those drivers arrested were men, and almost half of those were between 21 and 34 years old. Of the 19 per cent of female drivers arrested, almost half were between the ages of 25 and 44.
WATCH: York Regional Police release 2017 statistics for impaired driving charges. Catherine McDonald reports.
Drug-impaired driving charges spike over 2 years
York Regional Police reported a “significant” increase in charges for drug-impaired driving. Officers said there was a 90-per-cent increase in charges in 2017 compared to 2015.
Nicolle said there will be a bigger focus on drug-impaired driving in 2018 once legislation on cannabis becomes law.
“We have to continue to educate our officers so that we make sure we’re as current as possible in terms of detection and enforcement, but also educating the community and public,” Nicolle said.
“A huge piece to this is encouraging people to call 911 if they see an impaired driver … that’s how a lot of the arrests are made.”