The holiday season is in full swing, and with this time of year, many motorists risk driving while impaired.
That’s a problem the Ontario Province Police are trying solve through a program called Festive Ride Checks.
The checks began on November 23rd and wrap up after Christmas on January 2nd. Since the OPP started the checks, they have charged a total of 340 people with impaired driving.
The Frontenac detachment alone has charged six people with impaired driving over the same period and five others have received a suspended licence for having alcohol in their system.
WATCH: New impaired driving laws now in effect
A new federal law that came into effect on December 17th allows officers to identify impaired drivers more easily.
“This new legislation gives police more power to stop someone and ask for a breath demand without having reasonable suspicion,” said Roop Sandhu, a provincial constable with the Frontenac OPP detachment.
Another legislative tool given to the Ontario Provincial Police and other forces, effective January 1st, will be changes to the penalties for distracted driving.
In the new year, officers will be issuing court summons to those caught driving distracted and, rather than a set fine, they could face a judge who will determine what the fine will be — which could range anywhere between $500 and $2,000, according to Sandhu.
Global News spoke with many Kingston drivers about the increased penalty for distracted driving. Each respondent said that if you’re putting drivers around you in danger, the fines should be hefty.
It remains to be seen whether the number of distracted or impaired drivers will go down, but being seen is what the OPP’s Festive Ride Check is all about: letting drivers know that the new rules and penalties are on the road in order to keep those who do not get the message off of it.