OPP launches first Festive RIDE campaign of legal cannabis era

OPP have launched its annual Festive RIDE campaign. Global News

This year’s OPP Festive RIDE campaign is the first since recreational cannabis became legal in Canada.

To that end, provincial police are reminding drivers they are as prepared to deal with drug-impaired drivers over the holidays as those who are alcohol-impaired.

“Drivers who consume cannabis and think they can avoid detection by the OPP need to think again,” said Interim Deputy Commissioner Rose DiMarco. “The OPP has a strong set of tools and skills that enable them to take drug- and alcohol-impaired drivers off our roads.

“Whether a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, impaired is impaired. Both forms are dangerous, serious criminal offences and they carry similar penalties.”

READ MORE: Man charged with drunk driving during Santa Claus parade in Sydenham: OPP

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“Make no mistake, just because recreational cannabis has been legalized doesn’t mean you can drive while under the influence,” said Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Sylvia Jones.

“Driving impaired, whether from drugs or alcohol, remains a serious criminal offence. I want to assure the public that police officers across the province have received the training they need to identify drug-impaired drivers and will continue to keep roads and highways safe.”

READ MORE: Waterloo Regional Police launch #HIGHstakes campaign to educate pot users

Police say alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in the deaths of 39 people on OPP-patrolled roads so far this year.

And from Jan. 1 to mid-October, officers laid more than 6,700 impaired-driving charges across the province, including 283 for impairment by drugs.

“It’s never OK to drive impaired, whether by alcohol or drugs,” said Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek. “There are strict laws and penalties in place for offenders, including a zero tolerance policy for young, novice and commercial drivers. Safety has been and will continue to be our primary focus.”

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