York regional police are appealing to drivers to refrain from getting behind the wheel when impaired after 13 motorists were criminally charged with impaired driving over the past two nights.
Another four drivers had their licences suspended for having a blood alcohol content in the warning range.
“It’s just amazing to me that no matter what we do, no matter how much enforcement and education we do, the numbers keep going up,” said Const. Andy Pattenden with the York Regional Police Service.
“People don’t seem to get the message or don’t seem to care.”
The charges come just three days after police launched the annual holiday RIDE campaign.
“We do RIDE year-round, but it was on Wednesday night we launched our enhanced festive RIDE campaign, which means from Wednesday all the way to the New Year, we are out every day and night to RIDE spot checks and impaired driving enforcement,” Pattenden said.
“It’s just an increase ever since we are out there, so publicly telling people we will be out on the roads, catching impaired drivers.”
Jennifer Neville-Lake’s three children were killed in an impaired driving collision in Vaughan in September 2015 by convicted drunk driver Marco Muzzo.
“How many more mothers have to cry like I do because their children are killed by impaired drivers?” Neville-Lake said in a Tweet in response to York police’s arrests.
“When will it end? What will it take?”
Pattenden said five people have died this year in collisions that are alcohol- or drug-related. He said more than 1,200 charges have been laid for offences related to drug or alcohol impairment.
MADD Canada’s York region president, Katie Apreda, said she was frustrated to hear about the numbers; Apreda lost her friend, Ashley Fogal, in an impaired driving collision seven years ago.
“She was beautiful. She had everything going for her. She was helpful… To this day, I have not been to the crash site….It’s hard still. It doesn’t feel like seven years. It feels like it was this summer. You think the grief will go away. It’s not,” she said.
“Don’t do it. Simply do not do it. It’s so frustrating that people are not getting the message.”
Pattenden said that ahead of the holidays, he hopes people will think before driving while impaired, and he’s encouraging other drivers on the road to be vigilant.
“If you see any odd driving behaviour — whether it be weaving in and out of lanes, odd speeds — people know what an impaired driver looks like; don’t hesitate. It’s a call to 911, and we will respond,” he said.
—With files from Nick Westoll